Many times, you cannot determine the cause of labyrinthitis. Often, the condition follows a viral illness such as a cold or the flu. Viruses, or your body's immune response to them, may cause inflammation that results in labyrinthitis.
Other potential causes are these:
- Trauma or injury to your head or ear (similar to concussion)
- Bacterial infections: If found in nearby structures such as your middle ear, such infections may cause the following:
- Fluid to collect in the labyrinth (serous labyrinthitis)
- Fluid to directly invade the labyrinth, causing pus-producing (suppurative) labyrinthitis
- Alcohol abuse
- A benign tumor of the middle ear
- Certain medications taken in high doses
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: With this condition, small stones, or calcified particles, break off within the vestibule and bounce around. The particles trigger nerve impulses that the brain interprets as movement.
- More serious causes of vertigo can mimic labyrinthitis, but these occur rarely.
- Tumors at the base of the brain
- Strokes or insufficient blood supply to the brainstem or the nerves surrounding the labyrinth
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/14/2015
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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