4 Things to Know About Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance Caused by Labyrinthitis

Group of friends chatting in the street making sure their friend is ok after a bout with dizziness, vertigo and imbalance.

Dizziness, loss of balance and vertigo are common symptoms of labyrinthitis. It’s an inner ear disorder that can affect people in different ways. Here are four things to know.


Inside the ear are two vestibular nerves that send information to the brain for balance and spatial navigation. If these nerves become inflamed, your hearing, balance and ability to walk correctly can be affected.

Labyrinthitis can last for several days to a few weeks. Eventually, the symptoms fade. But they can return with sharp or sudden head movement. Fortunately, most people fully recover within a few months.

Common symptoms

Labyrinthitis can develop quickly, causing intense discomfort. In some cases, the symptoms can interfere with normal activities, such as walking, driving or playing sports.

Common symptoms can include:

  • vertigo
  • nausea and vomiting
  • tinnitus – buzzing or ringing in the ears
  • difficulty focusing eyes
  • dizziness
  • problems balancing when walking or standing
  • rare permanent hearing loss

Causes and risk factors

People of all ages can develop labyrinthitis. Medical experts believe it’s caused by different factors, including:

  • viral infection in the inner ear
  • respiratory illness, such as bronchitis
  • herpes virus
  • stomach virus
  • bacterial infection in the inner ear
  • infectious organisms, such as Lyme disease

Researchers have discovered that the risk of developing labyrinthitis is higher for people who:

  • smoke
  • suffer from allergies
  • experience extreme stress or fatigue
  • consume large amounts of alcohol
  • take certain prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin


If you experience symptoms of labyrinthitis, contact your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Labyrinthitis symptoms can be similar to other health conditions, such as Meniere’s disease, migraine, stroke, brain hemorrhage, brain tumor, or neck injury. During a physical exam, the doctor will identify the source.

Depending on the symptoms of labyrinthitis experienced, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to provide relief.