The vestibular nerve is one of the two branches of the vestibulocochlear nerve, functioning in tandem with the cochlear nerve. It has the job of transmitting data that has to do with the regulation of the sense of balance to and from the brain. When there is damage to the vestibular ganglion, the semicircular canals, or to the nerve itself, the patient will experience a sense of vertigo that can be extremely severe.
In actual function, the vestibular cranial nerve provides the means by which data that directs the necessary adjustments to maintain a proper balance is communicated to and from the brain. When the nerve is working properly, the data is in constant transmission as the individual walks, runs, or even sits. In situations where people travel over rough terrain or engage in activities such as mountain climbing or sky diving, the nerve makes it possible for the brain to compensate for the change in direction and angle. This, in turn, makes it much easier for the body to maintain a proper sense of up and down for the individual, regardless of the circumstances.
Because the function of the vestibular nerve has to do with maintaining a proper sense of balance, any health issue that interferes with that function can impact the ability of the individual to remain in an upright position. Inflammation of the inner ear may place pressure on the nerve and create a situation where the individual feels extremely unstable, especially when attempting to sit or stand. Often, treating the root cause of the inflammation will help to alleviate pressure on the nerve and restore a proper sense of balance that is free of any feelings of disorientation.
There are usually other symptoms that indicate the presence of some infection or inflammation that could lead to an interruption of the proper function of this nerve. A middle ear infection not only has the potential to temporarily lessen the hearing ability, but can also spread to the inner ear and begin to impact the ability of the nerve to communicate with the brain. People who experience any sense of fullness in the ear should seek the aid of a medical professional immediately. Often, treating the infection before it can progress to the inner ear will prevent any type of pressure or inflammation that would, in turn, have a negative impact on the sense of balance.
When some type of injury to the head causes vestibular nerve damage, restoring proper function may be a prolonged process. Steps are often taken to help relieve any swelling that may take place, reducing the pressure placed on the damaged nerve. During the recuperative period, the patient is likely to spend a great deal of time in bed, with orders to keep head movement to a minimum. In some cases, a brace may be used to help minimize movement while the nerve is allowed time to heal.