Labyrinthitis is an inner-ear condition that can cause balance problems. The inner ear swells, generally after you've had a cold or respiratory infection, and interferes with the normal signals your brain receives concerning balance. If a doctor diagnoses you with labyrinthitis, you've most likely experienced dizziness, nausea and ringing in the ears in addition to your balance issues. Exercises can help you regain your balance and retrain your body to process signals correctly. The exercises you'll perform are part of a treatment called vestibular rehabilitation therapy, or VRT.
Certain movements, like moving your head in a particular way, can cause you to feel dizzy or nauseated when you have labyrinthitis according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Your first instinct is probably to avoid positioning yourself in a way that provokes symptoms. However, VRT requires you to practice those head and body movements so your vestibular system learns to compensate for the missed signals that are causing your problems. When you find a motion that induces symptoms, such as turning your head to the left, proceed to perform the same motion five times in a row at least twice daily. Choose two movements to work with during one exercise session; if other positions bother you, work on those another time.
The ancient Chinese art of tai chi can be beneficial to you as a labyrinthitis patient because its gentle flowing movements are easier on the vestibular system than sharper, jerkier motions. Tai chi poses can also strengthen your ankles and hips. Strong ankles and hips can help you retain your balance until your inner-ear inflammation recedes. The mind-body connection component of tai chi increases your feelings of well-being, especially important if you’re dealing with depression and stress as well as the physical effects of the condition.
Video game systems that employ a balance board, such as the Wii, can benefit you if you're a labyrinthitis sufferer according to the Vestibular Disorders Association. The balance exercises that require you to walk in a straight line, balance on one leg and manipulate graphics to certain areas of the screen can help your vestibular system compensate for its shortcomings. Studies reported by VEDA show that patients' Dizziness Handicap Inventory scores improved after using supervised balance games as a form of VRT.
Exercises can help offset balance difficulties associated with labyrinthitis, but you should not start the exercises immediately at the onset of symptoms. Rest and medication is the first-line treatment for the condition according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Once you’re feeling better, your doctor may instruct you to begin VRT. Wait until you've consulted a medical professional before beginning repetitive movement therapy, playing balance games or practicing tai chi.