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VESTIBULAR NEURONITIS

Vestibular neuronitis is thought to be an inflammation of the balance nerve as it travels from the inner ear to the brainstem, likely due to a viral process. Symptoms typically arise as an acute onset of dizziness and may have a duration of days to months. Hearing loss is not typically seen in this disorder.

The acute symptoms may be treated with vestibular suppressants such as Antivert (meclizine), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorezapam). It should be remembered however that these medications are not curative, but simply relieve the symptoms. In fact, using these medications long term may impede or delay complete recovery. Treatment requires movement to allow for the brain to compensate for the abnormal input from the affected inner ear. Towards this end, eye and head movement exercises may used early on. If symptoms persist, vestibular rehabilitation, or physical therapy for the balance system, can be effective in resolving this problem.

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