What's Vestibular Neuritis? Inside Lin-Manuel Miranda's Illness

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Musical theater and hip-hop fans alike may know the name Lin-Manuel Miranda — the mastermind behind the musical “Hamilton” that hit Broadway in 2015 and has racked up 11 Tony Awards since then. Miranda played the title character, Alexander Hamilton, in the original cast and is also known for his freestyling talent (who hasn’t seen that clip of him freestyle-rapping at the White House with former President Obama?).

Those who follow Miranda on social media may have noticed him tweeting at the end of 2016 about coming down with a strange illness that left him dizzy and bedridden for several days. The culprit? Vestibular neuritis.

After days of tweeting about how sick and dizzy he felt, he announced his official diagnosis via knock knock joke. (Classic Lin.)

So what is this condition afflicting the nation’s favorite rhyming sensation? According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, vestibular neuritis (the more common name for vestibular neuronitis, which Miranda used) is a disorder that is caused by an infection of the nerves that connect the inner ear to the brain. This would explain this tweet:

These nerves are connected with our body’s ability to balance. Vestibular neuritis is actually the most common cause of acute spontaneous vertigo — no wonder Miranda was feeling so disoriented. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, and imbalance. But don’t worry, Miranda fans — it doesn’t affect hearing.

So how do the nerves connecting your inner ear to your brain actually get infected? According to studies, the cause could be a reactivation of a virus in the herpes family. This could include HSV-1, the type of herpes that can cause cold sores (more than two-thirds of the world’s population are estimated to have this virus). Other possible causes include other viral infections or, less commonly, bacterial infections.

Most people who come down with vestibular neuritis recover well, even if they don’t seek treatment. If they do seek treatment, oral steroids may be prescribed to help the person get better even faster.

According to his Twitter, Miranda went to the doctor and was told it would take 4-6 weeks to get better. Thank goodness! What would the world do without his quirky, motivational tweets?