Vestibular Neuronitis and Viral Labyrinthitis

Viral infections are the cause of dizziness in about 5% of cases and affect all age groups. They create inflammation of both the inner ear (labyrinthitis) and the nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain (neuronitis). Frequently an upper respiratory or gastrointestinal infection may precede the dizziness by up to two weeks. Initially there may be severe vertigo aggravated by movement of the head. Nausea may be present. The symptoms improve over a couple of days though there may be some dizziness for another few weeks or so. Hearing loss may accompany labryinthitis though not neuronitis.

Medications may be given to control the symptoms until the virus has run its course. If the infection is due to a herpes virus, specific antiviral medications may be used. Antibiotics may also be given in cases of acute labyrinthitis especially if bacterial involvement is suspected.

As Barbara has learned, the diagnosis of dizziness can be challenging as the symptoms are often vague and may be caused by a variety of problems. Treatment, however, is available. So if you ever get an attack of dizziness, take a “spin”…over to your doctor.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Program

What is vestibular rehabilitation?

  • A non-invasive approach for patients with vestibular and balance disorders.
  • A systematic, individually designed regimen of exercises and activities that address the unique needs of individual patients.

What problems benefit from therapy?

  • Persistant vertigo
  • Positional vertigo
  • History of falls
  • Motion sensitivity
  • Headache, stiff neck
  • Visual motion disturbances
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor balance

What are the goals of therapy?

  • Decrease frequency, intensity, and duration of vertigo
  • Decrease related symptoms such as headache, nausea, and lightheadedness
  • Improve balance
  • Increase independence in daily life
  • Develop compensatory strategies for coping with dizziness, disequilibrium, and anxiety
  • Musculoskeletal function
  • Independence in basic self-care skills and other daily life tasks.

What are typical diagnoses?

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Vestibular neuronitis
  • Chronic vestibulopathy

What kind of rehabilitation is done?

  • Habituation head exercises
  • Liberatory maneuvers for positional vertigo
  • Balance retraining
  • Safety training and other mobility skills
  • Training in activities of daily living