Vestibular neuritis is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which is located in the inner ear and carries balance signals from the inner ear to the brain. When this nerve is inflamed, it causes vertigo, which is a feeling of motion when there is no actual movement.
Vestibular neuritis often follows a cold or upper respiratory infection, which suggests that it is caused by a virus. It may also be caused by conditions that affect the circulatory system (blood flow) and the brain and central nervous system. Vestibular neuritis usually occurs in just one ear at a time.
Vertigo, the main symptom of vestibular neuritis, appears suddenly and is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Vertigo usually lasts for several days or weeks. In a few cases, it can take months to go away entirely. Vestibular neuritis does not lead to loss of hearing.
The inflammation that causes vestibular neuritis usually goes away on its own. The usual treatment is to rest until vertigo symptoms go away. Severe symptoms of vertigo may be reduced with medicines, such as antihistamines or sedatives.
Last Revised: November 16, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
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