Vestibular neuronitis

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Overview

Vestibular neuritis, also known by the name vestibular neuronitis, is thought to be caused by inflammation of the vestibular portion of the eighth cranial nerve and classically presents with vertigo, nausea, and gait imbalance. It is believed to be associated with preceding or accompanying viral infection. It is considered a benign, self-limited condition that typically lasts several days, but can take weeks to months for all vestibular symptoms to completely resolve. Vestibular neuritis is a clinical diagnosis, and it’s the clinician's task to differentiate this benign self-limiting disease from other central causes such as cerebrovascular syndromes, which may share a similar history and physical exam findings. The mainstay in medical treatment for vestibular neuritis is generally supportive, often consisting of antiemetics, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines. Vestibular rehabilitation should start once the initial bouts of nausea and vomiting are under control.

Symptoms

The symptoms of vestibular neuritis usually come on quickly and are most intense when they first appear.


They include:


sudden vertigo

balance issues

nausea and vomiting

dizziness

trouble concentrating

Causes

Most cases of vestibular neuritis are caused by a viral infection, either in your inner ear or other part of your body. Common viral infections that could cause vestibular neuritis include:

measles

flu

mononucleosis

rubella

mumps

shingles

chicken pox

In some cases, bacterial infections can cause vestibular neuritis. However, labyrinthitis is more likely to be caused by bacteria.

Risk factors

Usually between the ages of 30-60 with most between 40 and 50.

Affects males and females at the same rate.

30% have common colds just prior to their dizziness symptoms.

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Complications

The symptoms start to subside over the next few weeks, but some people can experience trouble with balance or dizziness, and have trouble walking, standing, or even turning their head. Difficulty balancing can also be dangerous, as it could cause a fall.

Prevention

It's unclear whether vestibular neuritis can be prevented. Researchers believe that the disorder is caused by viruses, but viral infections of the inner ear can be trickier to study than bacterial infections. It can also be difficult to study the labyrinth — the fluid-filled tubes and sacs that make up the inner ear — because it's susceptible to being damaged.

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