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Home > Medical Services > Ear, Nose & Throat > Ear Care > Ear Disorders > Labyrinthitis, Vestibular Neuritis & Hypofunction
Labyrinthitis is a disorder caused by an infection that affects the inner ear or the vestibulo-cochlear nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain. The labyrinth serves two functions: hearing and balance. An infection can affect both branches of the nerve, which may trigger hearing changes, vertigo and dizziness.
Inner ear infections are usually viral, although occasionally the cause is bacterial. Symptoms of viral and bacterial labyrinthitis can be similar, but treatments are very different, so proper diagnosis is key. Once diagnosed, steroids are typically prescribed. Inner ear infections can result in permanent damage to the hearing and balance nerves, but if treated promptly, some individuals regain normal function.
Treatment options also include therapeutic, rehabilitative exercises such as balance retraining to speed recovery and help adjust to any lingering imbalance. Physical therapy can be an essential service to evaluate the balance system and provide specific exercises for improving coordination, balance and habituation training to allow normal motion without loss of stability or symptoms of dizziness.