INNER EAR DISORDERS(Including Meniere's Disease and Labyrinthitis)
INNER EAR DISORDERS
(Including Meniere's Disease and Labyrinthitis)
DESCRIPTIONThe inner ear houses two main structures: a part of the eighth cranial nerve, which is important in hearing, and another part to help maintain balance. When your child's inner ear is disturbed or diseased, both hearing and balance may be altered. Many of the same symptoms experienced with seasickness and motion sickness may occur. Labyrinthitis is a disorder accompanied by inflammation of the semicircular canals in the inner ear (the labyrinth). Meniere's disease is a disorder accompanied by fluid in the inner ear's semicircular canals. All disorders of the inner ear may be accompanied by the same or similar symptoms. Appropriate health care includes hospitalization for the worst cases. If deafness accompanies other symptoms, see an ear specialist immediately!
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFor Meniere's disease: severe dizziness; noises in the affected ear, such as ringing or buzzing; hearing loss that increases with each attack. Possible accompanying symptoms: vomiting; sweating; jerky eye movements; loss of balance.
For labyrinthitis: extreme dizziness--especially with head movement--that begins gradually and peaks in 48 hours; involuntary eye movement; nausea and vomiting; loss of balance, especially falling toward the affected side; temporary hearing loss.
CAUSESFor Meniere's: unknown.
For labyrinthitis: virus infection (usually in the inner ear); bacterial infection in the inner ear; spread of a chronic middle-ear infection; ingestion of toxic drugs; allergy; cholesteatoma (an accumulation of debris covered by skin in the outer-ear canal).
Recent viral illness, especially respiratory infection; family history of allergies.
Excess alcohol consumption.
Use of some prescription or non-prescription drugs, especially aspirin.
Fatigue or overwork.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEObtain prompt medical treatment for your child's ear infections.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Diagnostic measures including audiometry and ice-water tests.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSPermanent hearing loss on the side affected (rare).
Recovery--either spontaneous or with treatment -- in 1 to 6 weeks.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Avoid glaring light and don't read during attacks.
Rest quietly in bed until dizziness and nausea disappear.
Don't walk without assistance.
Avoid sudden changes in position.
Tranquilizers to reduce the child's dizziness.
Antihistamines, which sometime lessen symptoms.
Diuretics to decrease fluid in the inner ear.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Keep the child's head as still as possible. Your child should rest in bed until the dizziness subsides. Then normal activities may be resumed gradually. Urge the child to avoid hazardous activities, such as driving, climbing, or working around dangerous machinery, until 1 week after symptoms disappear.
DIET & FLUIDS
Temporarily decrease the child's salt and fluid intake.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when condition and sense of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of labyrinthitis or Meniere's disease. If deafness occurs, call immediately!
The following occurs during treatment: decreased hearing in either ear; persistent vomiting; convulsions; fainting; fever of 101F (38.3C) or higher.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.