Posted by Debbie on October 3, 2019
What is an inner ear infection?
An inner ear infection is an infection of the innermost part of the ear. Often, an inner ear infection is not an infection, but an inflammation or irritation of the parts of the ear responsible for balance and hearing. When the inner ear is inflamed or irritated, symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), nausea, and vomiting may come on suddenly. Less commonly, an inner ear infection is a true infection caused by a virus or bacteria.
An inner ear infection often is inflammation or irritation of the parts of the ear responsible for balance and hearing called labyrinthitis. Less commonly, an inner ear infection is a true infection caused by a virus or bacteria.
Symptoms of inner ear infections include:
The most common cause of an inner ear infection is a virus. Less commonly, the cause of an inner ear infection may be bacterial.
Most ear infections that affect the outer (swimmer’s ear, otitis externa, or outer ear infection) or middle ear (otitis media) are mild and go away within one to two weeks. Inner ear disorders can last longer.
Most ear infections are infections of the middle ear (otitis media). Symptoms of middle ear infection are slightly different from inner ear infection and include ear pain, fever, and discharge from the ear canal. Since otitis media commonly occurs with an upper respiratory infection (a “cold”), other symptoms include sinus pressure, sore throat, and runny nose.
Problems hearing out of the infected ear is more common in inner ear infections than in middle ear infections.
Inner ear infections also may cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, which usually are not symptoms of middle ear infections.
Medications may be prescribed to treat an inner ear infection, to reduce swelling and inflammation, to treat nausea and vomiting, and to help eliminate dizziness and vertigo (sensation of the room spinning).
An inner ear infection itself is not contagious, but the viruses and bacteria that may cause them are.
When treated promptly, most inner ear infections will resolve in a few days to about two weeks’ duration, with no permanent damage to the ear. Some inner ear infections may lead to permanent partial or total hearing loss or damage to the vestibule system, which is responsible for balance