What Causes Vestibular Neuritis?

February 4, 2024

Vestibular neuritis is a medical condition that develops as a result of a viral infection. This illness causes the inner ear or the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain to become inflamed. Patients with this condition typically experience severe dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and problems with balance. Patients also generally experience vertigo, a sensation that their surroundings are spinning or swaying around them. Diagnosing vestibular neuritis can be difficult, and doctors perform a detailed clinical examination to rule out other potential causes of these symptoms. The doctor will check to ensure the patient does not have a head injury or a stroke. They will also perform a cardiac examination to rule out heart problems. The illnesses described below are some of the most common causes of vestibular neuritis.

Viral Infection In The Inner Ear

A viral infection in the inner ear is much more common than a bacterial infection. Viral infections typically only affect one ear, and doctors do not know as much about these types of infections as they do about bacterial infections. Antibiotics will not help in the treatment of viral infections, though most go away on their own and cause no permanent damage to the ear. Doctors who treat patients with viral inner ear infections focus on providing pain relief and managing dizziness and nausea. Over-the-counter pain medication and warm compresses applied to the ear can help ease the pain. Patients who have severe nausea may need intravenous fluids. If symptoms of a viral ear infection persist, doctors may order additional tests such as audiograms (hearing tests), electronystagmography, videonystagmography, and vestibular evoked myogenic potentials.

Measles And Rubella

Measles and rubella (German measles) are both preventable infectious diseases. Measles can cause fever, coughing, runny nose, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, and sensitivity to light. A classic symptom of measles is the presence of white spots with blue centers; these are located on the inside of the cheek and are known as Koplik's spots. Rubella produces similar symptoms, and patients who have this illness may also experience a rash that starts on the face and spreads down the body. In rare cases, rubella can cause both an earache and a stiff neck. To diagnose measles and rubella, doctors will perform a clinical examination and do blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. Patients who test positive for these conditions will be vaccinated immediately in an attempt to shorten the length of the illness. Patients with measles or rubella are advised to rest at home and take acetaminophen or other over the counter medications to reduce fever and pain. Since these diseases are highly contagious, patients will likely need to stay at home for several days until the infection has cleared.


The mumps virus attacks the salivary glands, causing them to swell. While some patients with this virus may have no symptoms, many patients experience loss of appetite, fever, headache, weakness, and facial pain. Patients may also have pain while eating or swallowing. This infection spreads very easily through saliva, and patients will need to stay at home for a week while they are contagious. There are no treatments for the illness, and most cases typically resolve within two weeks. To ease the symptoms, patients may wish to apply ice packs to the face and neck area to relieve pain in the salivary glands and lymph nodes. Eating ice cream, frozen yogurt, or popsicles can also reduce pain, and patients should drink lots of fluids to ensure they stay sufficiently hydrated. Since chewing can be quite painful with this condition, doctors recommend eating a diet of soft foods such as yogurt, pudding, and soup.


Chickenpox typically occurs in childhood, and the classic symptom is the presence of an extremely itchy rash on the skin. The rash typically looks like a bunch of red spots or blisters, and some patients may also have ulcers. For many patients, the rash scabs over after about seven days. In addition to a rash, patients may have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. Most cases of chickenpox resolve within one to two weeks.

Patients may wish to use an oatmeal bath or calamine lotion to relieve itching. An antihistamine should also be used to reduce itching, and patients should try not to scratch the rash, as this can lead to scarring and skin damage. Since chicken pox is highly contagious, patients should stay home from work or school for approximately seven days. Although patients may not feel like eating, they should try to have soup and other fluids to maintain proper hydration, and they should get as much rest as possible.


This condition is a highly contagious viral infection normally caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It can result in extreme fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, an enlarged spleen, chills, body aches, and swollen tonsils. Patients may also experience a headache, fever, nausea, and a rash. Patients who test positive for the illness will be advised to avoid contact sports, and they may also need to stay at home for several weeks to recover. While most patients begin to feel better in two to four weeks, the fatigue caused by this illness can linger for months. To help themselves feel better, patients should try to stay hydrated, and gargling with salt water may be recommended to relieve a sore throat. If patients also have a sinus infection or strep throat, these can be resolved with antibiotics.

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