Inner Ear Infection

Inner ear infections are usually caused by vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis, which can trigger many symptoms, including dizziness. These infections can heal within a few weeks on their own, but in some cases they must be treated with medication or other remedies to re-establish a proper sense of balance. Your doctor can help you determine the best course of treatment.


Symptoms of Inner Ear Infection

The most noticeable affects are on a person’s balance and hearing. There might not be any pain associated with the infections, but dizziness and muffled hearing are common.

  • Dizziness
  • Trouble with focusing the eyes (this is due to involuntary eye movements triggered by the infection)
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of hearing in the infected ear
  • Ringing or other noises (called tinnitus)
  • Nausea and vomiting


  • If you are experiencing vomiting as a symptom, seek emergency medical attention immediately. This can be a sign of a serious injury that needs special attention from a medical professional and if you wait, it can lead to long-term or permanent injuries.
  • Older patients might experience dizziness for a longer period of time.
  • Unfortunately, any hearing loss experienced might be permanent. In many cases, your only option is to treat your symptoms and wait for the infection to clear on its own.

Causes of Inner Ear Infection

There are a few different causes of an inner ear infection. You should speak with your doctor about recent invents in your life and report all symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to problems in your ears.

Possible Causes

  • Middle ear infection (this is called acute otitis media)
  • Viral infection of the vestibular nerve (this can be associated with the herpes virus)
  • Meningitis (this is an infection of the brain lining)

Risk Factors

Some people have a higher risk of developing an inner ear infection. If you are prone to inner ear infections, you might want to consider lifestyle changes. The following health issues increase the risk for developing an inner ear infection.

  • History of allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Recent bout of respiratory infection, viral illness, or ear infection
  • Some prescription and over-the-counter medications, especially aspirin

Remedies for Inner Ear Infection

Most symptoms resolve within a week and the infection is completely gone within a couple of months. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, it is probably a good idea to visit your doctor.

Home Remedies

Home remedies can help you ease the symptoms of an inner ear infection and hasten the healing process of the infection. Effective home remedies include:

image002 Garlic. Garlic has antibiotic properties, so it can speed the healing of an infection. Cut a clove in half and squeeze a few drops of juice into your ear. You can also wrap rubbing alcohol soaked cotton around a clove of garlic and place into your ear. Be sure to squeeze out any excess alcohol before inserting because it can drip out over time. This pain relief method can be used for several hours at a time.

Onion Juice. Combine warm water and slices of onion. Pull two drops of the warm mixture into an ear dropper and place in the ear. This reduces pain, but it can also loosen built up wax.

Warm Olive Oil. Heat a small amount of olive oil in the microwave until just warm and use an ear dropper to place two drops into your ear. It is important to not overheat the oil because it can burn the inside of your ear, increasing the amount of pain you are experiencing.

image003 Water Bottle Compress. A hot water bottle compress eases the pain of inner ear infections (keep the bottle wrapped in a towel to avoid direct contact with the skin). Fill a water bottle with hot water and place against the ear in 15 minute intervals. You do not want to leave the compress on for more than 15 minutes at a time because it can injure the skin and prevent you from determining if pain is ongoing. An occasional break helps you assess the situation and determine if more time is needed with the compress.

Hydrogen Peroxide Ear Drops. When the pain occurs in conjunction with a water or ear wax clog, place two drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ear and then massage the area for a few minutes. The hydrogen peroxide liquid loosens ear wax buildup so it drains on its own naturally. You might feel or hear a bit of frothing, but do not worry. This means the drops are working.


  • Antihistamines
  • Medicine to relieve dizziness, including scopalamine and meclizine
  • Medicines used to control vomiting and nausea, including compazine
  • Sedatives, including Valium


Many people experience symptoms with an inner ear infection that severely affects their ability to do things as they normally would. Dizziness and nausea can have a major impact on your daily activities. The following actions ease your symptoms and ensure they do not increase in severity:

  • Rest
  • Remain as immobile as possible
  • Avoid bright lights, reading, and watching television
  • Return slowly to your regular activities
  • Avoid sudden movements, even if just changing positions
  • Do not drive, operate heavy machinery or climbing until at least a week after symptoms subside
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