Viral Vestibulitis

Updated April 17, 2017

Viral vestibulitis, often referred to as vertigo, can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the inner ear, or by head trauma that damages the tissue of the inner ear. The condition can be alleviated by medication, but there are also exercises that seem to shorten the dizziness, buzzing and nausea associated with the syndrome. If the incident of dizziness is sudden and of a short duration, it usually clears up on its own. If it continues, you must see a doctor.

Inner Ear Infections

Fluid that accumulates in the inner ear causes inflammation that may result in pain, dizziness and hearing loss. A simple process can be done in a doctor's office to find out if the problem is viral or bacterial. A puff of air is blown into the inner ear through a bulb attached to an otoscope, and if the inner eardrum is not moving in response, antibiotics are indicated. If the pressure is from a virus caused by a cold, antibiotics are not indicated. In that case, a decongestant will help. With the addition of over-the-counter medication that reduces pain and swelling, the inner ear infection causing the viral vestibulitis is quickly alleviated.

Otitis Interna

Otitis interna is an infection of the inner ear that is often caused by a viral inflammation. Symptoms include pain, fever, dizziness and the feeling of a clogged ear. Systemic viral infections like this are treated with antibiotics. Corticosteroids also treat the swelling, allowing the tissues to shrink and the infection to drain away.


Another cause of viral vestibulitis is rhinitis. At one time or another, most people suffer from swollen sinus tissues that cause stuffiness, but if the problems continue unchecked, the infection will progress to the ears. In the case of viral rhinitis, antibiotics are not effective, and antihistamines are often effective. If the rhinitis becomes chronic, doctors examine underlying microorganisms to determine if there is a bacterial cause.

Other Causes

Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis refer to an inflammation of the eighth cranial nerve and can be caused by viral, and less often, bacterial interference. Infectious mononucleosis or measles can irritate the vestibulocochlear nerve. These viral infections come on suddenly, with symptoms of nausea and dizziness at the beginning of the illness. Doctors may prescribe an antiviral medication, such as acyclovir or amoxicillin if there is an inner ear infection. Other medication that seems effective include diphenhydramine, lorezepam, diazepam and promethazine hydrocholoride. Even valium helps alleviate some of the symptoms.

Other Treatments

There are two exercises that seem to help vestibulitis. For one exercise, sit on the edge of a bed and fall back quickly. Turn the head sharply in the direction of the affected ear, and sit back up quickly. Although this may cause temporary dizziness, it seems to alleviate the symptoms somewhat. Repeat this process several times.

Another exercise that interrupts the sensations of vestibulitis is lying on your back on a bed, with your head hung over the edge. Roll your head quickly from side to side. Flip to your stomach and roll the head once again. Raise the head up and to the left and then to the right. Repeat both exercise sequences to interrupt the symptoms.

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About the Author

Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.