Welcome to my website on chronic Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis! The decision to create this website about labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis came from the frustration with the lack of information or support, anywhere, about labyrinthitis and vestibular Neuritis. I want to validate labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis sufferers by sharing my story and recovery, from this extremely debilitating illness. All too often I hear of people suffering for months or years with labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis, when it is completely unnecessary. There is a way to recover from labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis, unfortunately health care professionals such as GP’s do not have enough knowledge to direct people to the correct treatment; Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy. I am now dedicating my time to helping others overcome labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis and get their lives back. I have a BSC (Hons) in Psychology, am currently training to become a psychotherapist and I am a qualified Physiotherapy/ Physical Therapy Assistant; so I can treat vestibular issues. I am the author of ‘Recover from Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis..Finally!’ about the management and recovery of chronic labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis. I have also written numerous online articles about labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis on websites such as http://ezinearticles.com/, which I have posted on this website.
Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis overview:
Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis (VN) are caused by a viral (sometimes bacterial) virus in the inner ear. For labyrinthitis the virus causes inflammation to the labyrinth and in VN the vestibular nerve becomes inflamed. This causes causes a disruption to how all sensory information is inputted to the brain from the inner ear.
The inner ear is located in the brain behind the cheekbones. It contains the sensory organs which the body needs for hearing and balance. It is comprised of three main sections:
1) The Labyrinth resembles three intertwined semi-circular canals which are filled with fluid and sensors, which detect rotational movement of the head and aid balance. Each semicircle is at a different angle to the others and is responsible for recognising a particular head movement, for example, side to side, up and down and tilting to either side. In addition, each semicircle contains hair cells that are activated when the inner ear fluid moves. When our head moves, these hair cells send nerve impulses to the brain through the ‘vestibulocochlear nerve’ (also known as the acoustic nerve) telling the brain about the position of our head and body.
2) The Cochlea (cock – lee – a) is a snail-shaped, bony structure filled with fluid. Hair cells inside the cochlea are the sensory receptors for hearing. The middle ear sends signals to the cochlea, which forces movement in the fluid that, in turn, stimulates the hair cells. Signals are detected from the fluid by the hair cells and are converted to nerve impulses. These impulses are sent via the auditory nerve to be processed by the auditory cortex in the brain. This is how we hear.
3) The Vestibule is an egg-shaped cavity containing two sacks called the utricle and the saccule. The bottom of the labyrinth connects with the utricle which in turn connects with the saccule. The sensory cells located inside these sacks provide information about the position of the head when it is stationary. The utricle identifies horizontal changes in the body’s position and the saccule detects vertical movements.
‘The Vestibular System’ refers to the inner ear, the eyes and the sensory receptors in the muscles, skin and joints, including, for example, the receptors in the soles of the feet. The overall function of the vestibular system is to process sensory information through the labyrinth, cochlea and vestibule, and to control balance and eye movements.
Most cases of labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis clear up on their own in about 2 weeks. Some cases of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis can continue for up to 16 weeks but for some unfortunate individuals such as myself and possibly you, labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis can be indefinite without the correct treatment. General Practitioners (GP’s) will more often than not, prescribe medication for labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis such as Stemetil or Serc to ‘dumb down’ the dizziness while the body attacks the virus on its own. In the instances where the brain compensates for the dizziness labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis causes this medication can help, but for uncompensated labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis medication does little to alleviate the symptoms in the long term. If your labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis has been longer than the average period, there could be damage to the inner ear from the GP’s may refer you to an ENT specialist (ears, nose, throat). However, in my experience, people who suffer with labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis cannot find answers from the ENT specialist. This is because they will give their opinion based on the range of subjective symptoms described, but they cannot directly assess the inner ear. To receive a correct diagnosis by assessing any damage to your inner ear, you must attend an audiologist for a balance assessment and Caloric tests. Caloric tests directly examine the inner ear for damage, thus being the only way of receiving as accurate diagnosis. You can be referred to an audiologist by an ENT specialist, or you can contact them directly yourself to arrange an appointment.
The ENT specialist or the audiologist can at this stage refer you to a physiotherapist for Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT). The name sounds more ominous than it is. VRT is simply a set of gentle exercises to aid the brain to compensate for the dizziness caused by labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis. An example would be walking with head movements or balancing on one leg. It may sound very simple but for chronic labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis VRT is the only way to recover. Sufferers sometimes try VRT but give up too quickly, or believe that because their symptoms can initially increase it is not working for them. However Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is the best tool at our disposal and how we can reclaim our lives.
ENT specialists and GP’s are not quick to inform labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis sufferers about VRT. In my experience it is because many of them do not actually know much about VRT (remembering that they are ‘general’ practitioners so do not have in-depth knowledge on all illnesses) or they feel medication is the best treatment for labyrinthitis . I had actually heard of VRT while my labyrinthitis symptoms were acute, but I assumed that because my doctor had never mentioned it to me that I was not a candidate for it or that VRT was for really really severe cases of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis.
You do not need to wait for the ENT Specialist to refer you to a physiotherapist as this can take months. Find a physiotherapist in your area that specializes in VRT and make an appointment. I really urge anyone reading this page that does not seem to be recovering from labyrinthitis within the ‘usuaul’ time frame, to contact a physiotherapist in your area who specializes in VRT. I have listed some clinics in Ireland on this website for your convenience.
If the anxiety/ depression & panic attacks from labyrinthitis are hard to cope with, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps with managing these symptoms. A few great books to read to help you recover are:
Recover from Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis – Finally! by Marian Groome
‘When panic attacks’ by Dr Aine Tubridy
‘Self Help for Your Nerves’ by Dr. Claire Weeks
There is excellent professional help out there and you will come out the other side of labyrinthitis but you need to take matters into your own hands.