Vestibular neuronitis

Vestibular neuronitis (also known as Viral Labyrinthitis)

The inner ear provides two functions. One is to allow you to hear. The other is to help in control of balance and eye movements when you turn your head. One of the nerves going to the ear carries information regarding balance. Occasionally this nerve can become inflamed possibly due to a viral infection. This means the information from the inner ear regarding balance is interrupted. The brain interprets this information incorrectly and you will end up feeling dizzy with a sensation of your head spinning (vertigo) or unsteadiness when you walk or turn your head. This dizziness can be incapacitating and can result in you feeling sick and vomiting. After a few days or weeks the brain learns to adapt and/or the nerves to the ear recover. The dizziness slowly improves. You may be left with some dizziness especially when turning your head quickly or sitting upright after lying down. Sometimes the recovery is incomplete and you may be left with a chronic feeling of dizziness. Most drugs such as Prochlorperazine (Stemetil) will slow down this recovery and are not recommended for long-term use. In general the best way to improve the dizziness due to vestibular neuronitis is to remain active (take a 30 minute walk every day) and avoid taking tablets for dizziness. Certain exercises described below (Vestibular Ocular Reflex Exercise and Cooksey-Cawthorne Exercises ) can help the recovery. If the dizziness persist lifestyle measure and treatment for migraine can also help. See here

In some patients both inner ear balance organs do not work. This is often caused by certain drugs (e.g. Gentamiacin). The resulting unsteadiness and balance problems are much more severe. Even with treatment patients remain unsteady. The exercises below may not result in a major improvement but may still be worth a try. Therapy in these cases revolves around making maximum use of existing senses e.g. vision and joint/skin pressure sensation. Input from physiotherapy and occupational therapy is recommended.

Vestibular Ocular Reflex (VOR) Exercise/ Gaze Stabilisation Exercise:

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