If a child has vertigo, especially along with nausea, vomiting, or hearing loss, the doctor should be called.
Diagnosis of labyrinthitis is based on a combination of the individual's symptoms and history, especially a history of a recent upper respiratory infection. The doctor will test the child's hearing and order a laboratory culture to identify the organism if the patient has a discharge.
If there is no history of a recent infection, the doctor will order tests such as a commuted topography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to help rule out other possible causes of vertigo, such as tumors. If it is believed a bacterium is causing the labyrinthitis, blood tests may be done, or any fluid draining from the ear may be analyzed to help determine what type of bacteria is present.
If a bacterial agent is found to be the cause, the individual is given antibiotics to clear up the infection. Antibiotics cannot cure viral infections. Some patients may require surgery to drain the inner and middle ear. If an underlying condition such as a tumor is found to be the cause of the labyrinthitis, treatment will depend on the underlying condition.
Because most labyrinthitis resolves on its own, most treatment is focused on controlling the symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to help reduce vertigo and nausea. If vomiting cannot be controlled, so that fluids cannot be kept down, fluids may be administered intravenously to prevent dehydration.
Individuals with labyrinthitis should rest in bed until the acute dizziness subsides. Some experts believe that recovery is aided by moving around once the most acute symptoms are no longer present. This can be difficult, however, because moving often makes symptoms worse.