Vestibular neuritis

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Vestibular neuritis is an inflammatory response of the vestibular nerve of the inner ear, in the aftermath of an attack by a virus. It causes severe vertigo and is of a sudden onset, with or without nausea or vomiting, but without neurological signs or hearing loss. The symptoms of vestibular neuritis may seem highly bothersome, but it is indeed a benign disease. It is a common cause of dizziness and generally, dizziness and other symptoms last from one to several weeks, healing being spontaneous.


Vestibular neuritis is responsible for disturbing symptoms of sudden onset:
  • vertigo;
  • nausea
  • vomiting.

No hearing loss or neurological signs appear in this context.
Symptoms may last a few days before returning to normal.


A general physical examination of the ears is completed and some simple positional tests help to detect the occurrence of dizziness. No further review is necessary to make the diagnosis, but in the search of other possible pathologies, hearing tests, brain imaging or special tests called caloric vestibular tests (pushing water of different temperatures up in to the ears) may be requested. These tests enable a doctor to exclude other potentially serious causes of severe dizziness (brain tumor, stroke, excessive medication ...).


The patient must stay in bed and rest, from a few days to several weeks depending on the duration of symptoms. Drugs that fight against nausea, called antiemetics, are prescribed if vomiting persists. Finally, the patient may be referred to a specialist for the realization of a vestibular rehabilitation that will help cure his dizziness.