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Vestibular Neuritis

1. What is vestibular neuritis?

Vestibular neuritis is caused by an inflammation of the vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve transmits information about the movement of the head. Each ear has its own vestibular nerve, and when one is affected it creates an imbalance between the input being provided by each sides, resulting in vertigo, nausea, tinnitus, , nystagmus (involuntary jerking of the eyeball) and dizziness.

Individuals with vestibular neuritis initially experience the sudden onset of severe spinning dizziness or vertigo. Symptoms of nausea and vomiting frequently are severe and last for hours, and even up to several days. Frequently, patients are bedridden for several days. Damage to the balance system requires retraining of the balance system to overcome severe unsteadiness. Rarely, individuals complain of “quick spins” which are brief spells lasting from seconds to minutes which creates the sensation of high speed rotation, then stops suddenly.

2. What causes vestibular neuritis?

Vestibular neuritis can be caused by viral infections, immune mediated processes, tumors, neurologic disease, cysts, trauma, or by a loss of blood flow to the vestibular system. Unlike vestibular labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis is confined to the vestibular system and hearing is unaffected.

3. What is the treatment for vestibular neuritis?

A specialized interdisciplinary team of professionals is necessary to treat all of the issues associated with vestibular neuritis. This group of individuals should include an Otologist or Otolaryngologist, and an audiologist, and possibly a vestibular rehabilitation expert.

The California Ear Institute is a leading global center for otological, otolaryngological and audiological treatment. Dr. Joseph Roberson, a board certified neurotologist, has successfully treated thousands of patients with hearing and balance related disorders.

4. What are the consequences of avoiding treatment?

Patients must seek medical treatment for any change in hearing or balance regardless of whether or not vestibular neuritis is suspected to be the source of the hearing loss. Evaluation for beneficial drug treatment or surgery cannot be established without a comprehensive medical examination and associated testing. Avoiding medical evaluation for vestibular neuritis or any other hearing or balance impairment related condition is not recommended, and can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Additional Notes

Patients searching the internet for information about vestibular neuritis or any other medical issue should know when reading about individual case histories, that generally it is the patients with the most severe symptoms who either post their own experiences or are included in medical review journals. As a result, it is easy to become overly alarmed and assume the worst. Patients should keep this in mind as they explore the available resources, and look for sources that are certified by HON or other reputable health reviewing organizations. As with all medical conditions, prompt treatment by experienced medical personnel give the best chance for a positive outcome.


If you suspect that you have vestibular neuritis, or you have noticed a change in your hearing, consult a CEI otologist. The outlook for treatment is excellent, once the diagnosis has been made and appropriate treatment is initiated.

Click here to make an appointment with the California Ear Institute to consult with one of our board certified otologists regarding your ear-related condition.

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