Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis (vn) are viral infections in the inner ear. Both viruses cause inflammation to either the labyrinth (resembling 3 intertwined semicircular canals) or the vestibular nerve. This inflammation causes the inner ear to send mixed messages to the brain about the position of the body. This results in symptoms such as disequilibrium, vertigo, nausea, anxiety, tinnitus and balance issues. The vestibular system is a combination of the inner ear, the eyes and sensory receptors in the muscles, skin and joints. It is responsible for processing sensory information and controlling eye movements and balance. There can be a number of causes of labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis such as severe head cold, head injury or stress. Labyrinthitis and vn can be extremely distressing and debilitating for the sufferer. Most cases last from 2 – 6 weeks, however many suffer indefinitely without receiving proper medical treatment. The following are 5 essential ways to recover from labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis and manage your health:
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)
VRT is a set of gentle exercises designed to target any weakness in the vestibular system, and alleviate the sufferers symptoms. Exercises are administered by a trained Physiotherapist and performed by you at home. The aim of VRT is get sufferers functioning in their lives again without feeling dizzy. VRT is the most important part of recovery. Without performing these exercises the vestibular system may not have the ability to compensate on its own. To begin VRT, simply contact your nearest physiotherapist who specialises in VRT.
Stress of any kind will aggravate symptoms of vertigo and fatigue, making you feel very unwell. Rushing around, worrying, feeling overwhelmed and anxiety or panic will place stress on the already fragile vestibular system, and may cause a setback in your recovery. A great way to remain calm is meditation. Transcendental Meditation has been scientifically proven to decrease stress levels dramatically by stimulating the prefrontal cortex; which is the part of our brains most affected by stress. Make sure to check in with how you are feeling throughout the day, and take some deep belly breaths if you are feeling tense. Listening to guided relaxation can be very effective to helping you relax.
Alcohol soaks into the inner ear and can cause balance issues and dizziness – and this is on a good day! So when your labyrinth is inflamed or the vestibular nerves are damaged, it will simply be unable to function with the added pressure of alcohol. Consuming alcohol while you are ill will increase your symptoms, and should be completely avoided until you are stronger.
Avoid Busy Environments
Busy environments such as cafes, bars or shopping centres should be avoided while you are recovering from labyrinthitis or vn. The vestibular system is responsible for processing sensory information, so anywhere with too much noise, bright lights or movement will cause a sensory overload and your system will be unable to cope. This could leave you feeling panicked, anxious, dizzy, exhausted or nauseous. If you keep pushing yourself to be in environments like this, you could actually make yourself much worse.
Rest, rest and more rest! When the vestibular system is weak, processing external stimuli is extremely challenging, and can often result in symptoms like chronic fatigue. If you liken it to trying to run on a broken leg, you can see how hard the body is working! Lying down every day in silence for thirty minutes with your eyes closed, will allow the system to relax. This is particularly important if you are in busy environments throughout the day. Always make sure you get enough sleep at night time, as tiredness will aggravate your symptoms.