The inner ear on the left and right sides are connected to the brain via the vestibular nerves. These nerves are continually active and provide the brain with information about your head position and speed of head movement.
Under normal circumstances, if you turn your head to the left, the left nerve becomes excited and it dulls the activity of the nerve on the right. The brain interprets this imbalance between the output of the nerves as a turn of the head to the left.
Labyrinthitis is usually cause by a virus but may also arise as a result of a bacterial infection. This will dull or wipe out the input from the affected labyrinth. As a result, the opposite side will be allowed to send messages to the brain indicating that you are turning to that side. For as long as the infection lasts you will experience often extreme sensations of spinning, light-headedness, sweating, nausea and vomiting. This can be compounded by panic attacks that can also result in dizziness, sweating, loss of sensation in various body parts and palpitations.
The GP will often prescribe a Vestibular Suppressant that will dull the activity of your unaffected side. However, despite the fact that this may make you feel better during the acute phase of your condition, long term use of these drugs is strictly advised to be avoided since it will suppress the recovery of the affected side and will ultimately delay your recovery.
During the initial stages of your condition the brain will put processes in place to dull the activity of your unaffected side. This is known as the Cerebellar Clamp. Once the clamp is in place, the sensations of spinning and nausea will diminish. Once the Clamp subsides after a few weeks, the brain needs stimulation with regards to movement and balance and this is where Vestibular Rehabilitation is required. The brain needs to know that errors are occurring so avoidance of movements that cause dizziness is detrimental to recovery.
You will be prescribed a progressive series of exercises designed to promote healing that will lead you, once more, to a normal life by our Vestibular Physiotherapist. Following resolution, you may suffer from panic attacks and you will be referred to our Councillor and/or Relaxation Therapist.
If you report that a particular exercise makes you feel nauseous, expect only one answer from your Vestibular Physiotherapist......'GOOD!' If the brain produces an error message, it will use plasticity to create new ways of dealing with the situation. If you avoid it, it will remain as an error message and you will experience spinning and nausea.
Vestibular Rehabilitation is never easy but our Professional Team will work with you to guide you to a satisfactory conclusion and a normal life.