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Is there a cure for labyrinthitis

01:00 Mon 18th Feb 2002 |

asks awol:

A. Labyrinthitis is an unpleasant infection, which strikes suddenly, without warning. You suddenly feel dizzy and rooms spin in front of you. You feel sick, nauseous, sweaty, and need to lie down urgently. You may have tinnitus or some hearing loss, too.

Q. What causes it
The labyrinth is part of your inner ear. It's filled with fluid and helps you keep your balance. Labyrinthitis is what happens when an infection irritates the labyrinth, which sends chaotic messages to your brain about which way is up and where your body is. It's similar to travel sickness, where the horizon keeps shifting, but feels worse.

It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The viral form often happens if you are suffering from a flu-like illness, and the bacterial version is usually caused by a middle ear infection which hasn't cleared up properly. Occasionally it can be cause by a head injury.

Q. What's the best thing to do
A. You should see your GP immediately if you have any of the symptoms. If you have the viral form, it'll clear up on its own, but you'll be given something to relieve the symptoms, such as an antihistamine.
The bacterial form needs antibiotics immediately in case the infection leads to deafness.

However, if you are vomiting a lot, you won't be able to take tablets, and will have to take the drugs in the form of an injection, pessary or a medicine that dissolves in the mouth.

Q. What can I do to help myself
Lying down quietly relieves the symptoms. Avoid getting dehydrated by drinking liquids. Constant sipping is more effective than gulping down large amounts which you may throw up again.

Q. How long does labyrinthitis last
Between one and three weeks, on average. However, it's usual to make a full recovery.

Q. Is it contagious

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