Question :

Feeling dizziness, off balance and light-headed: Possible Labyrinthitis.

Dear Ask The Doctor:
For a month Ive been feeling light-headed, off balance and dizzy when I walk, like my head is heavy. And i have no idea why .I ve tried healthy diet, sleep and activity, blood test but doctor says im fine as im not sick. though not as bad as day 1 it is gradually getting better. I heard that an inner ear infection(Labyrinthitis)can make you feel dizzy, for weeks. And the symptoms seem to match because what happened was i got a really bad ear infection so bad that my glands were swollen, then it went away. the next day i rode an elevator as soon as i walked out i felt extremely dizzy i had to sit down for it to pass. Family and friend dont believe me as I look fine. Could a bad ear infection transfer into inner ear making you dizzy, off balance So do I have Labyrinthitis or something else Should I seek medical help or will it heal on its own.


Answer :

Dear Patient: 
Labyrinthitis is a problem deep inside the inner ear. It happens when the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear that helps control your balance, gets inflammed. The inflammation may cause sudden vertigo. This makes you feel like you're spinning or whirling, dizzy and off balance at times. Labyrinthitis may also cause temporary hearing loss or a ringing sound in your ears. This is also called vestibular neuritis. The two problems have the same symptoms and are treated the same way. The cause of Labyrinthitis is not clear. Labyrinthitis can happen after a viral infection or, more rarely, after an infection caused by bacteria. It is often triggered by an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu or a cold. Less often, it may start after a middle ear infection. Your doctor can tell if you have Labyrinthitis by doing a physical exam and asking about your symptoms and past health. Your doctor will look for signs of viral infections that can trigger Labyrinthitis. If the cause of your vertigo is not clear, your doctor may do other tests, such as electronystagmography or an MRI to rule out other problems. Most of the time, Labyrinthitis goes away on its own. This normally takes several weeks. If the cause is a bacterial infection, your doctor will give you antibiotics. But most cases are caused by viral infections, which can't be cured with antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe  steroid medication, which may help you get better sooner. He or she may also give you other medicines, such as antiemetic, antihistamines, and sedatives, to help control the nausea and vomiting caused by vertigo. Staying active can help you get better. Check with your doctor about trying balance exercises at home. These include simple head movements and keeping your balance while standing and sitting. They may reduce symptoms of vertigo.
 


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