Otitis Interna: Inner Ear Infection

otitis interna symptoms

The inner ear has a number of structures that are accountable for the sense of hearing and balance. It has a passage called the labyrinth which can be divided into the a bony part which lies in the temporal bone of the skull and a membranous part that runs within the bony labyrinth. These two parts of the maze are separated by a fluid (perilymph) and the membranous labyrinth also contains a fluid called the endolymph. The other primary parts of the labyrinth are the semi-circular canals and cochlea.

The vestibular system comprising the semi-circular canals and vestibule are involved in balance while the cochlea is accountable for the sense of hearing. These are a series of other ducts that allow various parts of the maze to interact with each other. It is necessary to note that the inner ear is surrounded by the middle ear, mastoid and subarachnoid area. Therefore any pathology within this ear can impact on these other areas, and vice versa.

What is Otitis Interna?

Labyrinthitis is a swelling of the maze and its structures within the inner ear due to infectious or non-infectious causes. Considering that the maze comprises the inner ear, labyrinthitis can likewise be referred to as otitis interna or internal otitis and have to be differentiated from a middle ear infection (otitis media) and outer ear infection (otitis externa). The inflammation largely effects on the vestibular system accountable for the sense of balance and therefore the particular medical features of labyrinthitis have the tendency to include disorders with balance. When the entire maze is impacted (pan-labyrinthine), the cochlea is likewise included and after that hearing may be influenced to differing degrees (sensorineural hearing loss). Otitis interna is sometimes described as vestibular neuritis, nevertheless, the vestibule nerve is influenced specifically in neuritis and the interchangeable usage of these terms is not constantly proper.

The maze is a secured compartment and lies deep in the skull compared with the outer or middle ear. It is therefore hard for microbes to reach it directly. Nevertheless, the labyrinth’s position and distance to other structures puts it at danger if there is an infection in these areas. It interacts with the middle ear at the round and oval window and with the subarachnoid area through the cochlear aqueduct and internal auditory canal. The maze lies nearby to the mastoid cavity separated by a thin layer of bone. Therefore otitis interna may be a complication of otitis media, meningitis or mastoiditis.

The fluid within the vestibular system promotes little hair-like projections which sends out signals back to the brain about the orientation of the head. This information is processed in conjunction with signals from the eyes, muscles and joints to develop the position of the body and make any necessary weather changes to preserve balance, according to artplay-katok.ru. Nevertheless, with labyrinthitis the abnormal signals from the vestibular system does not correlate with information gotten from other parts of the body. It leads to vertigo which is a characteristic function of labyrinthitis.

Many cases of labyrinthitis are because of infections, typically viral or bacterial in nature, and are severe. Chronic labyrinthitis is regularly related to an autoimmune mechanism, however, the entire procedure is not plainly comprehended.

Causes of Otitis Interna


Viral otitis interna more typically follows a viral upper breathing tract infection which might be caused by the influenza, parainfluenza and breathing synctial bacterias. Nevertheless, viral labyrinthitis might be connected with mumps, measles, rubella and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Reactivation of the varicella zoster virus that causes chicken pox (herpes zoster) might likewise be accountable for labyrinthitis (herpes zoster oticus or Ramsay-Hunter syndrome).

Bacterial labyrinthitis is unusual and may be caused by streptococci, staphylococci, H. influenzae, M. catarrhalis, N.meningitidis, E.coli, Proteus types, Bacteroides species or M. tuberculosis. These bacteria might cause otitis interna by:

  • Direct seepage of bacteria from surrounding sites, like with otitis media (middle ear infection), meningitis (infection of the brain lining) or mastoiditis and it is then called suppurative labyrinthitis.
  • Entry of bacterial contaminants into the labyrinth which causes swelling, known as serous labyrinthitis.


  • Systemic autoimmune conditions like Wegener granulomatosis or polyarteritis nodosa.
  • Allergies


  • Injury to the head or ear specifically.
  • Compression brought on by benign growths of the middle ear like a cholesteatoma.

Medications and Substances

  • Antibiotics, certain types.
  • Aspirin
  • Diuretics, certain types like furosemide.
  • Phenytoin, exceedingly high levels.
  • Alcohol

Symptoms and signs

Symptoms have the tendency to occur about a week after an upper breathing tract infection. The most prominent symptom of otitis interna is vertigo. This is a sensation of the environment spinning around and may likewise be referred to as lightheadedness. However, dizziness is more precisely a sensation of lightheadedness which differs from the feeling of vertigo. It can be persistent or provoked just by movement of the head (positional vertigo). The vertigo may be accompanied by queasiness and vomiting. Generally the vertigo lasts for simply 3 to 4 days then subsides although it may sometimes occur thereafter as intense attacks for a month or more.

The degree of hearing loss might vary and is sensorineural in nature compared with the conductive hearing loss seen with severe otitis externa or otitis media.

For that reason it might be accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears). However, grownups with labyrinthitis may not experience significant hearing loss or ringing in the ears. Ear pain (otalgia) may be present to differing degrees and is typically accompanied by a sensation of fullness deep in the ear. It might also be accompanied by neck pain and stiffness when related to other severe infections of surrounding sites. A fever may likewise exist in infectious causes.

Another function is unusual and rapid shaking of the eyes known as nystagmus. It may not always be obvious however is frequently spotted upon medical assessment if it is present. Otorrhea (ear discharge) may not always be present but is most likely to accompany a perforation of the ear drum and usually if there is co-existing otitis media or when labyrinthitis is associated with a cholesteatoma.

Other vital symptoms and signs consist of:

  • Loss of balance
  • Visual disturbances
  • Headaches
  • Facial weak point
  • Tiredness

What are the Treatments for Otitis Interna?

Antibiotics are offered for otitis interna caused by bacteria, typically through an intravenous line, or IV. An IV is a thin tube that is inserted though the skin and into a vein, usually in the hand or lower arm. Surgery might likewise be needed inside the ear.

Viral infections might be treated with corticosteroids, such as prednisone, and antiviral medications. If there is permanent hearing problems, a listening devices might be useful.

Vertigo can be treated with medications such as meclizine. Medications are just utilized short-term for balance trouble. They permit the brain to learn to adjust to the inner ear injury. Unique exercises can typically help speed and enhance the brain’s capability to adjust.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Antibiotics can cause allergies and indigestion. Antivertigo medications may cause drowsiness, a dry mouth, and allergies. Surgery may cause balance issues, bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.

What occurs after treatment for the infection?

Most individuals searching for no further treatment after the infection triggering otitis interna is cleared up. Those with balance issues are often encouraged to continue balance exercises to adjust to the inner ear damage. If the hearing problems does not enhance within 2 weeks, the loss is likely to be permanent.

How is the infection kept an eye on?

Those with otitis interna caused by a bacteria are often kept an eye on in the health center for a short time. Others can frequently monitor their symptoms at home. Routine hearing tests may be advised in some cases to follow symptoms. Any brand-new or aggravating symptoms need to be reported to the doctor.

Last modified: December 1, 2016


The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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