Could colder weather effect your balance?
Inner Ear Infections and Vestibular Rehab
Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis are disorders resulting from an infection that inflames the inner ear or the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain which are common in the winter months. This inflammation disrupts the transmission of sensory information from the ear to the brain. Vertigo, dizziness, and difficulties with balance, vision, or hearing may result.
Infections of the inner ear are usually viral; less commonly, the cause is bacterial. An inner ear viral infection may be the result of a systemic viral illness (one affecting the rest of the body, such as infectious mononucleosis or measles); or, the infection may be confined to the labyrinth or the vestibulo-cochlear nerve. Usually, only one ear is affected.
Some of the viruses that have been associated with vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis include herpes viruses (such as the ones that cause cold sores or chicken pox and shingles), influenza, measles, rubella, mumps, polio, hepatitis, and Epstein-Barr. Other viruses may be involved that are as yet unidentified because of difficulties in sampling the labyrinth without destroying it. Because the inner ear infection is usually caused by a virus, it can run its course and then go dormant in the nerve only to flare up again at any time. There is currently no way to predict whether or not it will come back.
Neuritis (inflammation of the nerve) affects the branch associated with balance, resulting in dizziness or vertigo but no change in hearing. The term neuronitis (damage to the sensory neurons of the vestibular ganglion) is also used.
Labyrinthitis (inflammation of the labyrinth) occurs when an infection affects both branches of the vestibulo-cochlear nerve, resulting in hearing changes as well as dizziness or vertigo.
Symptoms of viral neuritis can be mild or severe, ranging from subtle dizziness to a violent spinning sensation (vertigo). They can also include nausea, vomiting, unsteadiness and imbalance, difficulty with vision, and impaired concentration.
Sometimes the symptoms can be so severe that they affect the ability to stand up or walk. Viral labyrinthitis may produce the same symptoms, along with tinnitus (ringing or noises in the ear) and/or hearing loss.
When symptoms of dizziness or imbalance result from Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis, Vestibular Rehabilitation (a special type of physical therapy) can evaluate and retrain the brain’s ability to adjust to the vestibular imbalance. Usually, the brain can adapt to the altered signals resulting from labyrinthitis or neuritis in a process known as compensation. Vestibular rehabilitation exercises facilitates this compensation.
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If you are experiencing any symptoms connected to vertigo, call Coastal Ear, Nose, and Throat. We look forward to helping you find the cause and proper treatment for your vertigo symptoms. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call our office at 732-280-7855 ext: 175.