Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear, and a form of unilateral vestibular dysfunction. It derives its name from the labyrinths that house the vestibular system (which sense changes in head position). Labyrinthitis can cause balance disorders.
In addition to balance control problems, a labyrinthitis patient may encounter hearing loss and tinnitus. Labyrinthitis is usually caused by a virus, but it can also arise from bacterial infection, head injury, extreme stress, an allergy or as a reaction to a particular medication. Both bacterial and viral labyrinthitis can cause permanent hearing loss, although this is rare.
Labyrinthitis often follows an upper respiratory tract infection (URI).