Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis
For years I was told that I was living with the effects of uncompensated Labyrinthitis. I ticked every box, from the initial attack of vertigo right through to the relentless never ending symptoms. I truly believed that this was what I was dealing with. I pushed on with vestibular rehabilitation all that time, forcing my brain and inner ear to compensate for the damage done (The exercises used make me feel awful). No matter how hard I tried I seemed to get nowhere. Then my story changed and I was diagnosed with chronic Migraine associated vertigo. This just shows how similar each condition is and how difficult it is to get the correct diagnoses and treatment.
What is Labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis is a condition caused by inflammation of the inner ear. This inflammation causes a miscommunication between the messages sent from the ear to the brain resulting in some degree of temporary hearing loss and significant balance problems. Labyrinthitis usually only affects one ear, but it can occur in both ears. It is thought to be a result of a viral infection and commonly begins with a sudden acute attack of spinning vertigo. Labyrinthtis is also very similar to another condition called vestibular neuritis, symptoms are generally the same except there is no hearing loss with vestibular neuritis. Luckily the majority of people make a 100% natural recovery within 2 to 8 weeks and can happily continue on with their lives as normal.
Unfortunately some cases of labyrinthitis cause long term balance problems and can occasionally result in permanent hearing loss. Patients may still feel unwell long after the usual 2 to 8 week recovery window. The inability of the condition to resolve itself naturally results in the patient being diagnosed with Uncompensated Labyrinthitis. Simply put, the inner ear and the brain do not compensate for the initial inflammation/injury. In this case symptoms can continue for months and in fewer cases maybe years. It is therefore necessary for these patients to begin vestibular rehabilitation therapy.
For much more information about this condition I advise you to visit a website called Labyrinthitis.org. Link and brief description below:
Labyrinthitis.org is a wonderful website created by two sufferers Emma and Isla. Emma and Isla explain there own personal experiences living with this dreadful condition and also provide a whole wealth of other information and useful content. Their symptom list is wonderfully described and totally relatable. Emma and Isla's website was the first site I personally stumbled upon and I found it enormously helpful and reassuring back at the start of my journey. This site has a big thumbs up from me.
Vertigo and dizziness
▪ True spinning vertigo attacks, visual vertigo or whirling sensation; an illusion of movement of self and the world
▪ Lightheaded, floating, or rocking sensation
▪ Sensation of being heavily weighted or pulled in one direction.Detached, spaced out feeling all of the time.
Balance and spatial orientation
▪ Imbalance, stumbling, difficulty walking straight or turning a corner. Floor feels like it is lifting me up and down when standing or walking
▪ Clumsiness or difficulty with coordination
▪ Tendency to look downward to confirm the location of the
▪ Tendency to touch or hold onto something when standing, Activity increases Imbalance
▪ Sensitivity to changes in walking surfaces or footwear
▪ Trouble focusing or tracking objects with the eyes; objects or words on a page seem to jump, bounce,
float, or blur or may appear doubled. Eyes feel stiff and slow
▪ Discomfort from busy visual environments such as traffic, crowds, stores, and patterns. Walls and floors appear to arc and bend
▪ Sensitivity to light, glare, and moving or flickering lights
▪ Tendency to focus on nearby objects; increased discomfort when focusing at a distance. Increased night blindness; difficulty walking in the dark, Bouncing vision whilst walking, Fuzzy vision.
This is not a complete list of symptoms.