Vestibular Neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is inflammation of the vestibular nerve, causing vertigo, dizziness, and balance issues, often due to viral infections.

An illustration of ear and its nerve showing inflammation of nerve causing a condition called Vestibular Neuritis

What is Vestibular Neuritis? 

(Synonyms used: Vestibular Neuronitis, Acute Vestibular Loss) 

Vestibular Neuritis, also known as vestibular neuronitis, is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which is responsible for transmitting balance and spatial information from the inner ear to the brain. This inflammation can disrupt the normal functioning of the vestibular (balance) system, leading to vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems. 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. 


How Prevalent is Vestibular Neuritis?  

Vestibular neuritis is relatively common, with thousands of new cases diagnosed each year. It can affect individuals of any age, although it tends to be more common in adults between the ages of 30 and 60. 


Causes of Vestibular Neuritis  

The exact cause of vestibular neuritis is not always clear. However, it is often associated with viral infections, particularly those affecting the inner ear. Some among the viral infections includes; 

  • COVID 19 
  • Flu (Influenza) 
  • Herpes simplex virus 
  • Measles  
  • Mumps 
  • Chickenpox 
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • and others

Symptoms of Vestibular Neuritis  

The hallmark symptom of vestibular neuritis is sudden onset vertigo, often described as a spinning sensation that can be triggered by head movements. Other common symptoms include lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, tendency to fall, severe motion sickness, and difficulty focusing or concentrating.

Triggers and Risk Factors  

While vestibular neuritis can occur without any apparent cause, certain factors may increase the risk of developing the condition. These may include a history of viral infections, recent upper respiratory tract infections, stress, fatigue, and smoking. 

Diagnosis and Tests  

Diagnosis and Tests for Vestibular Neuritis

Diagnosing vestibular neuritis typically involves a thorough medical history and physical examination, including specialized tests such as vestibular function tests:

  • Videonystagmography (VNG)
  • Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT)
  • Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP)

Imaging studies like MRI Brain, and CT scan Brain may be performed to rule out other possible causes of symptoms, such as a Vestibular Schwannoma. 

Treatment Options

Treatment Options for Vestibular Neuritis

The first line of treatment on new onset for vestibular neuritis focuses on managing symptoms (reducing vertigo symptoms) and helping the body recover from inflammation. This may include medications such as vestibular suppressants or anti-nausea drugs. Once symptoms were managed Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) will help improve balance and reduce dizziness.

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Professionally Reviewed

Last reviewed by Sidharth Rajeev, Dr. Yugandhar Ramakrishna on May 8, 2024