An inner ear infection can be a very painful problem. It starts when the labyrinth of your ear gets swollen and inflamed. The labyrinth controls your balance, so this inflammation can cause serious problems, like vertigo, temporary hearing loss, or a ringing sound in your ears. If the vertigo is bad enough, it can make you feel nauseas.
Inner ear infection can be caused by numerous things, including a virus or an infection. Though there is no known way to prevent the problem, there are many medications that work quickly to reduce the symptoms and get you back on track. In most cases, the inner ear infection is gone within a few weeks, and full recovery should happen within a month.
Symptoms of Inner Ear Infection
Inner ear infections can come on slowly or suddenly. You might experience many of the following symptoms, of just a few. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to visit the doctor and get checked out for inner ear infection.
- Flickering of the eyes, also known as nystagmus. Someone looking at your eyes will note that you seem to have trouble focusing.
- Vertigo or abnormal sensation of movement. You might feel as though you are moving, or the room is moving, when neither is actually happening.
- Involuntary eye movements that make it tough to focus the eye, and so everything appears blurry.
- You might suffer hearing loss in one or both ears and you might notice a loud ringing or other noises.
- You might experience a loss of balance, such as falling to one side, not being able to walk in a straight line, or having to hold onto something in order to walk properly.
- Nausea and vomiting are often associated with vertigo, but they might also be associated with the inner ear infection itself.
Causes of Inner Ear Infection
Inner ear infection can be caused by a wide variety of things. The exact reason for a particular inner ear infection is often not clear, because there are so many potential causes. It might be a bacterial infection, such as a middle ear infection or meningitis. It could be brought on by a cold or the flu, or a sinus infection. It might be the result of a head or ear injury, or might be part of an autoimmune disease, though these causes are considered rare. Even more rare are problems caused by allergies, stroke, tumor, or medications that have done damage to the inner ear. The following to causes are by far the most common ones.
1. Viral Inner Ear Infection
Doctors estimate that about half of all inner ear infections are caused by a viral infection that begins in the nose, mouth, chest or airway. This might be something as simple as a minor cold or something as serious as the flu. Sometimes viral ear infections can be caused by full-body infections, such as mumps, glandular fever or measles, but these are much less common than the cold or flu explanation.
2. Bacterial Inner Ear Infection
Bacteria in the inner ear can also cause an infection. This happens when bacteria enters the labyrinth and finds a break in the skin between the inner ear and the middle ear. This can happen with issues such as meningitis or an middle ear infection that becomes bad enough to spread. If you have a head or ear injury, that could also offer a gateway for bacteria to enter. Though this is much more rare than a viral infection, it is also much more serious.
3. Your Risk for Inner Ear Infection
If you are suffering from fatigue, drinking large amounts of alcohol or smoking often, you might be at higher risk for an inner ear infection. If you have a history of allergies or have suffered a recent illness, such as a respiratory infection or ear infection, you are much more likely to develop the problem. Stress can also lead to a higher risk, as can the use of medications such as aspirin.
This video can tell you much more about inner ear infection:
Treatment for Inner Ear Infection
Inner ear infections can be painful and bothersome. Fortunately, most of them pass within a few weeks, and you feel better within a month. The most common course of treatment is bed rest and medication. These medications might help you fight the underlying infection, as well as ease the difficult symptoms of inner ear infection. Here’s what you might need:
Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. However, if you have a viral infection, antibiotics are useless.
- If you are nauseas or vomiting, you might be given medications like compazine to control the symptoms.
- If you are dizzy, your doctor might prescribe scopolamine or meclizine to help you.
- If you are feeling really terrible, medications such as valium might be used to sedate you a bit.
- Many people deal with vertigo when they have an inner ear infection. Vertigo can be annoying, but it can also lead to serious problems with balance and walking. To control the symptoms, try these tips.
- When the world begins to spin, stay very still and rest. You might feel better if your eyes are closed.
- Don’t move suddenly – that is likely to bring on another episode.
- Be careful about walking. Walk slowly, and be prepared to hold onto something, such as a table or counter, when you are suffering from vertigo attacks.
- Bright lights, reading, television and other activities that involve your eyes might make vertigo worse. Avoid these and see if that helps.
- Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, climb stairs or the like until you’ve been symptom-free for a week. Vertigo while in the midst of these activities can be very dangerous.
When to See a Doctor
When should you see your doctor for an inner ear infection? Here are the things that say you should get to the office quickly.
- If you have all the symptoms of inner ear infection, such as dizziness, loss of balance, vertigo, or anything else that makes you suspect you have an infection.
- If you suffer any sort of hearing loss, get to the doctor immediately.
- If you begin to experience fainting, double vision, vomiting that won’t stop, slurred speech, weakness or paralysis, or convulsions, call 911 immediately. If you are dealing with vertigo and you have a fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, it is also an indication that you need emergency care.