Vestibular neuronitis is disease of the vestibular nerve that causes severe episodes of vertigo. The vestibular nerve is responsible for sending messages from the inner ear to the brain. If the vestibular nerves in each ear are sending different signals, the result is an inability to feel balanced. Vestibular neuronitis is most common in adults.
Symptoms can vary from mild dizzy spells to a severe swaying sensation. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, trouble seeing and impaired concentration. These symptoms typically occur suddenly and without warning, and they can even keep someone from being able to stand or walk. Vestibular neurosis can cause severe symptoms that last up to several days and mild symptoms that can occur for several weeks. If there is permanent damage to the vestibular nerve, however, the person may develop chronic symptoms.
To diagnose vestibular neuronitis, the doctor will first rule out other causes of vertigo symptoms such as stroke, allergies, side effects of drugs or neurological disorders. The doctor will then assess rapid eye movements, as this can be caused by issues with the vestibular system. The doctor may also conduct hearing tests, balance tests and focus tests.
In most cases, vestibular neuronitis is caused by a viral infection, which can be systemic (whole body) or confined to the ear. Some viral infections associated with vestibular neuronitis include herpes, measles, mononucleosis, influenza, mumps and hepatitis. If this is the case, the doctor will treat the underlying cause with antibiotics. If this doesn’t work, the doctor will prescribe medications to manage nausea, dizziness and other bothersome symptoms.