Labyrinthitis: Rebecca's story 

Rebecca has labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection. In this video, she describes how it affected her balance and perception, and where she found help.

Learn more about Rebecca's labyrinthitis

Transcript of Labyrinthitis: Rebecca's story

In 2007, about two years ago,

I woke up and my left ear felt blocked and the room was spinning.

I couldn't walk in a straight line. Llike being drunk without the alcohol.

Then I got into work and the corridor was swaying back and forth

and the floor was moving and it was extremely frightening.

Someone took me to the doctor's and I was reassured that I had labyrinthitis

and that it would spontaneously disappear within three to eight weeks.

Labyrinthitis is a bio-infection of the labyrinth, in the inner ear,

and which is essential for maintaining balance.

So the viral infection causes permanent damage to the labyrinth

and sends a faulty signal from the inner ear to the brain

and you're left with symptoms of imbalance, dizziness, disequilibrium.

With most people, within three to eight weeks,

the brain compensates for the inner-ear damage.

I was diagnosed a year later as having uncompensated labyrinthitis

because my brain hadn't compensated for the inner-ear injury

and you're left with chronic symptoms 24/7.

So basically you feel like you're constantly moving.

Things tend to shift in your field of vision, objects will move.

If you're walking along and the pattern of the paving stones changes,

the floor will move beneath you.

You become disorientated by a busy visual environment.

Because your eyes are focusing on those, it upsets your balance even more.

I remember being in a supermarket and the floor literally doing this.

Because of all the visual information, my brain couldn't cope with balancing.

I also found it very difficult to eat and keep my weight up

because the room was constantly moving

and whenever I looked down, the table would tilt, everything would move.

And you never feel like you're still. You feel like you're falling backwards.

You can feel you're falling forwards.

You're woken up by spinning in your sleep as well.

So that's... And then you stand up and everything's moving.

You lie down and everything's moving, so it's very mentally draining.

To be honest I would find it very difficult

if I hadn't found a website on the internet

set up by two sufferers of chronic labyrinthitis.

To actually hear from other people

that I wasn't going mad

and that some people don't make a spontaneous recovery

and go on having symptoms for years, was just the biggest relief.

I think it saved my sanity.

You just can't believe that an inner-ear disorder

can completely... can affect your life so severely.

The thing that's helped me so much is vestibular rehabilitation therapy,

which is a way of retraining your brain to make it ignore the signals

that are coming from your inner ear to your brain.

Every day you do about four to five exercises

and you do them twice a day,

and they're specialised head and body and eye movements.

Now I'm 26 months down the line and I'd say I was 60%-70% better than I was

and I'm continuing to improve with the VRT.

I' m also getting back into doing exercise

which, hopefully, along with my VRT will get me further down the line.

Hopefully I'll get to a point where it doesn't affect my life any more,

and I feel that's not too far away

because of improvements I've made recently

with the vestibular rehabilitation therapy.

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