Vestibular neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is characterised by a sudden attack of vertigo caused by an inner ear infection.

VESTIBULAR NEURITISWhile it can be difficult to say vestibular neuritis really, really fast, it’s pretty easy to understand it when you break it down into its main components. Vestibular refers to the part of the inner ear that affects balance and posture, and neuritis is the swelling of a nerve or group of nerves. So imagine the nerves in your ear which maintain balance becoming inflamed and swollen.

Their ability to do their job, which is to send sensory information to the brain, gets compromised and the message the brain receives is quite literally, off balance. That’s what we’re dealing with when we talk about vestibular neuritis.

You might see vestibular neuritis written as vestibular nueronitis. These are the same thing. Labyrinthitis is an interrelated infection, referring to an ear infection in the labyrinth of the ear. If you think of a maze, with all its interconnected twists and turns, you get an idea of what the labyrinth of the ear is. It’s the liquid filled part inside the ear and contains the cochlea, semi-circle canals and vestibule.

The easiest way to differentiate the two disorders is to remember that the labyrinth contains the vestibule, affecting balance, but it is also involved in hearing, which vestibular neuritis does not affect. Accordingly, the symptoms of both disorders are the same, but Labyrinthitis also causes ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and/or loss of hearing.

Symptoms

Symptoms of vestibular neuritis occur abruptly and may include unsteadiness, nausea and vomiting. You may feel as though the room is spinning, and moving your head makes everything feel worse. The most serious symptoms, like vertigo and dizziness tend to last only a couple of days, but interfere with daily functioning to an extent that makes routine tasks like getting the groceries or going to work near impossible .

Once the heavier symptoms go down, most patients make a full recovery, albeit slowly. It usually takes around three weeks. In a minority of cases, symptoms of balance and dizziness problems can last several months.

Treatment

Treatment comes in three forms:

  1. Managing the symptoms
  2. Treating the virus (If there is one)
  3. Rehabilitation

Vestibule suppressants are a group of different types of drugs that reduce dizziness. They shouldn’t be used longer than three days and can make recovery more difficult. There are a number of drugs out there to help with nausea and vomiting, but if these symptoms persist despite medication, patients may be taken to hospital for IV fluids to treat dehydration.

If a herpes virus is the prime suspect to be of the disorder, antiviral medicine like acyclovir is prescribed.

In extreme cases, where dizziness lasts over a few weeks, suffers may be referred to a physical therapist to learn exercises that will hopefully retrain the brain to adapt to the sufferers change in balance.

 

Community

Perhaps the best treatment of all is to gain support from real people who are suffering from Vestibular Neuritis. Misery does love company, after all. And Vestibular Neuritis is a particularly lonely disease.

Great community for sufferers of Vestibular Neuritis and their families is www.Dizzytimes.com

The forum is a hub of sympathetic ears to draw solace and advice from. There is a heart-warming line of communication from long term sufferers towards newly diagnosed patients. In one post, a woman named Pamela gives advice to a young man who feels helpless after his Dad is diagnosed.

Wearing Sea Bands,acupressure wristbands for travel sickness can help a lot and won’t interfere with any medication. Also, ginger tea, ginger biscuits and crystallized ginger can help to settle the stomach. The crucial time is when the dizziness eases off because then it’s very important for the sufferer to get up and move as much as possible – even if it’s just to do a slow lap of the house or garden a few times a day. The virus damages the inner ear permanently, and in the vast majority of cases the brain compensates automatically. However, sitting or lying around all day when the dizziness eases can hinder this. Have a good look around the site and ask any questions you have. Please don’t be disheartened by reading about those of us who have been suffering for a long time – we’re a tiny minority.

Vestibular Neurosis does not have to mean you have to turn into a recluse. With the right treatment and the support of family, friends and the on-line community (Blog you’re currently reading included) you can get past the disease with a greater appreciation for the things we too often take for granted. Ironically, we can come out of it more balanced than we ever were before.

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