Inner ear infections in adults are common and may lead to severe complications if not treated on time. And to begin any treatment, the first step is to identify the symptoms of the infection.
Infection of the labyrinth is called labyrinthitis, and is commonly known as inner ear infection. Viruses and bacteria usually cause this infection, though bacterial infections are rare. Inner ear infection shouldn’t be confused with middle ear infection, which are bacterial infections that are common in children. Labyrinthitis is quite frequent in adults aged 30 – 60 years, so it’s important to understand the symptoms of this infection.
How to Detect An Inner Ear Infection
The most obvious and painful sign of an inner ear infection is
- Sudden nausea
- Unsteadiness and imbalance
- Impaired concentration
The extent of vertigo may vary from person to person. You could experience subtle dizziness, or a severe dizziness spell, where you feel like you are whirring or spinning. Vertigo can cause you to blink rapidly, or lose your balance while walking, standing or sitting. The change in pressure in your inner ear, due to the infection, causes vertigo.
Tinnitus is another symptom that may indicate an inner ear infection. It is a ringing or roaring sound, which can be heard only by you, and is not coming from your surroundings. It can be continuous or occur in breaks and is most irritating when your environment is quiet and the sound seems very loud. This symptom is a sure sign that your inner ear is infected, as false signals are being sent to your brain.
- Hearing loss in one or both ears
- Involuntary eye movement
- People with allergies or those who have just recovered from viral or respiratory illnesses, are at a greater risk of labyrinthitis.
- Smokers and users of certain prescription drugs like aspirin, are also at risk.
- Inner ear infection symptoms in adults, can last up to 1 or 2 weeks, if the inflammation is detected and being treated. But if ill-diagnosed or if its lacks proper treatment, labyrinthitis can cause severe damage to a patient’s sense of hearing and balance system. The person can suffer from chronic dizziness, even if the inflammation disappears.
A doctor will examine your medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine whether an infection has occurred or not. If the infection is bacterial, then antibiotics are prescribed. But most infections are viral and medicines like Benadryl, Antivert and Phenergen are given to curb the vertigo. Additional medication is prescribed to help reduce the severity of symptoms, such as vomiting.
Physical therapy can also restore balance in severe cases. For the first week of your infection, the best medicine is bed rest. Avoid reading and bright lights with vertigo. Take safety precautions, like using nonskid mats at home, and removing sharp and breakable objects. Practice simple balance exercises like small head movements and balancing while sitting or standing. With the right medication and complete care, the infection can be cured in 2-3 months.
It is clear from the above signs that inner ear infection is painful, and can have a debilitating effect on the nervous system and hearing abilities. So if you start feeling dizzy of late with a sudden loss of hearing, check your symptoms with this article, to see if you have an infection in the inner ear, and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.