Vestibular neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brainstem and plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and spatial orientation. This inflammation typically results from a viral infection, often involving the same viruses responsible for causing colds or other upper respiratory infections.

The inflammation of the vestibular nerve can disrupt the transmission of signals between the inner ear and the brain, leading to symptoms such as:

Vertigo: A sensation of spinning or whirling, typically severe and sudden in onset, often triggered by changes in head position.

Nausea and vomiting: Vertigo associated with vestibular neuritis can be intense enough to cause nausea and vomiting.

Unsteadiness or imbalance: Individuals with vestibular neuritis may experience feelings of unsteadiness or imbalance, particularly during episodes of vertigo.

Nystagmus: Involuntary, rapid eye movements, often characterized by horizontal or rotary movements, may occur during episodes of vertigo.

Unlike labyrinthitis, the symptoms of vestibular neuritis are typically not associated with hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) as the inflammation primarily affects the vestibular portion of the inner ear.

The diagnosis of vestibular neuritis is based on a combination of clinical history, physical examination findings (such as the presence of characteristic nystagmus), and ruling out other potential causes of symptoms. Additional tests, such as vestibular function tests or imaging studies, may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of vestibular dysfunction.

Treatment for vestibular neuritis often involves symptomatic management to alleviate vertigo and associated symptoms, such as anti-vertigo medications, anti-nausea medications, and vestibular rehabilitation therapy to promote compensation for vestibular deficits and improve balance. While symptoms of vestibular neuritis can be debilitating initially, most individuals experience significant improvement over time, with many achieving complete resolution of symptoms within a few weeks to months.