What is the treatment for labyrinthitis?
The following medication can be prescribed to help relieve symptoms:
- Antihistamines - desloratadine (Clarinex), or over-the-counter options such as loratadine (Claritin), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), or fexofenadine (Allegra).
- Meclizine (Antivert) which helps to reduce nausea and dizziness.
- Diazepam as a sedative.
- Prednisone as a corticosteroid (these are used to treat inflammation).
- Motion sickness medication to aid in the treatment of loss of balance and vertigo.
- Antibiotics will only be prescribed if you have a bacterial infection in the respiratory tract, or if the labyrinthitis is bacterial as antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of viral infections. Blood cultures and swabs of the fluid, if there is fluid available, will detect which bacteria is present and then an antibiotic will be prescribed.
To help treat vertigo, you can do the following:
- Do not move in sudden or quick movements.
- It is better to be in low lighting as this can help if you are feeling dizzy as bright lights are often deemed overwhelming when experiencing vertigo.
- If you are lying in bed and experience vertigo, try to keep your head still and sit up slowly.
- If you are walking and experience vertigo, try to find something to lean on or slowly sit down until it subsides.
PLEASE NOTE: It is not safe to drive if you are experiencing vertigo on a regular basis.
- Try to rest in a position that is comfortable for the first few days.
- Keep hydrated and drink a lot of water.
- Try to reduce your sodium and sugar intake as this can affect your vertigo as these foods are known to spike blood sugar levels.
- Avoid chocolate, alcohol and caffeine.
- Do not smoke cigarettes as these can make you feel lightheaded.
Treatment for chronic labyrinthitis
Some people may suffer from vertigo and dizziness associated with an inner ear infection for a number of months or years, experts and doctors will typically refer to this as chronic labyrinthitis (i.e. long-term labyrinthitis).
The symptoms of chronic labyrinthitis are not usually experienced as severely as when one is first diagnosed with an inner ear infection and vertigo and dizziness tend to lessen over time. However, these mild symptoms associated with an inner ear infection may persist and adversely impact one's daily activities and quality of life.
In order for those suffering from chronic labyrinthitis to seek some form of relief from long-term symptoms, a form of treatment known as VRT (vestibular rehabilitation therapy) is often recommended by doctors.
VRT (vestibular rehabilitation therapy)
This exercise-based form of treatment is designed to help ease the symptoms of a chronic inner ear infection, particularly those of vertigo and dizziness, the exercise program does this by promoting vestibular (i.e. relating to the inner ear) adaptation, as well as substitution. Simply put, VRT aids in retraining the nervous system and brain in order to compensate for any abnormal symptoms and signs stemming from the vestibular system.
VRT is typically supervised by a specialist such as a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist is a qualified expert in treating injury, disease or deformity through utilising physical methods such as exercise, massage and even heat treatment. He or she will make use of a range of different exercises designed to aid in the below ways:
- Improvement of hand-eye co-ordination – enhancing the stability of one's gaze
- Simulation of dizziness in order to allow the brain to adjust to the specific disruptive signals that are sent to it from the vestibular system and train it to ignore these signals.
- Improvement of walking ability and balance
- Improvement of fitness and strength