Treating Vestibular Neuronitis 


A young woman suffering vertigo braces herself on a wall to balance herselfWhen the vestibular nerve in the inner ear becomes inflamed due to a viral infection, it can often cause a balance disorder known as vestibular neuronitis. At our Baltimore, MD, practice, our doctors can provide medications and vestibular nerve therapy to help reverse the effects of this disorder. Both labyrinthitis and vestibular neuronitis present very similar symptoms, such as dizziness and loss of balance. However, when the vestibular nerve becomes inflamed, it disrupts the way signals are interpreted by the brain, which leads to moderate to severe vertigo and nausea. Dr. Michael Weiss and the specialists at Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat can help diagnose and treat the acute symptoms with a comprehensive evaluation. Using state-of-the-art imaging, scans, and therapy, vestibular neuronitis symptoms can be treated before becoming chronic. 

Cause of Vestibular Neuronitis

Vestibular neuronitis is caused by a viral infection in the inner ear, or a viral infection in another area of the body, such as measles, flu, mumps, or chickenpox. Once the infection occurs, it can lead to labyrinthitis and vestibular neuronitis, triggering inflammation in the vestibular nerve. Once this happens, the vestibular nerve will send mixed signals to the brain, and you may experience vision problems, dizziness, and loss of balance (vertigo).

Signs and Symptoms of Vestibular Neuronitis

Vertigo is the primary symptom of vestibular neuronitis and usually occurs without warning. Although the side effects will eventually go away on their own, it could last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, affecting your ability to walk and drive. It can be hard to diagnose the early onset of vestibular neuronitis since vertigo can also be associated with other health conditions. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid movement of the eyes

How Vestibular Neuronitis Can Affect Children

When vestibular neuronitis occurs in small children, it inflames the vestibular nerve and inner ear, leading to the possibility of long-term health issues. An inflamed vestibular nerve triggers incorrect message signals to the brain. This can cause oscillopsia (gaze instability) and delay the development of fine and gross motor skills, such as walking and balancing.

Seeing a specialist the moment you develop any of the signs and symptoms of vestibular neuronitis can protect your health and quality of life. 

The moment your child exhibits any of these symptoms during or after a viral or upper respiratory infection, it’s important to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists as soon as possible. A comprehensive evaluation will be performed to determine whether PE tubes need to be surgically inserted to help your child’s ears drain more effectively.

Treatment Options for Vestibular Neuronitis

If you think you are experiencing the side effects of vestibular neuronitis, Dr. Weiss or one of our other specialists at Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat will perform an evaluation. Using sophisticated tools and techniques, our doctors will test your hearing, eye movement, and balance to determine the severity of your symptoms. They can also provide medications, such as ondansetron, meclizine, Valium, and steroids.

When symptoms have continued for several weeks, our doctors can also use vestibular nerve therapy to help retrain and reset the signals sent from your nerve to the brain. Your doctor will prescribe habitual exercises for dizziness, gaze stability exercises to strengthen eyes, and balance training to improve steadiness.

Schedule Your Appointment

Seeing a specialist the moment you develop any of the signs and symptoms of vestibular neuronitis can protect your health and quality of life. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation with one of our doctors.