Is there anything more relaxing than a nature hike at Northside Trail? That is, unless you’re plagued by allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, congestion, runny nose, sneezing and even ear pain.
You may be surprised to learn that ear pain can be the result of allergies. We review the connection below.
What Causes Allergies?
When the body comes into contact with allergens, which are normally harmless substances that the immune system deems a threat, it produces the antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE tells the cells to release the chemical histamine, which causes inflammation and increased mucus production affecting the eyes, nose, throat and sinuses. Because the nose, throat and sinuses connect to the ears, they can also be affected.
Specifically, allergies can contribute to ear pain when:
- Inflammation blocks the Eustachian tubes.
- Fluid builds up in the middle ear.
- Bacteria grows in this fluid.
Inflammation of the Eustachian Tubes
The Eustachian tubes are the narrow passageways that connect the middle ears to the throat. They allow fluid to drain and equalize pressure between the ears and your environment.
When allergies cause inflammation, it can affect the Eustachian tubes. This causes a feeling of pressure, fullness or pain in the ears and can cause fluid to become trapped.
When fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear, it increases the risk of bacteria growing in the ear, causing an infection.
Symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Feeling of fullness
- Reduced hearing
- Poor balance
See a doctor if your symptoms last 10 days or longer, or if you have a fever. You may need antibiotics to clear the infection.
Treating Ear Pain Caused by Allergies
The best way to treat ear pain caused by allergies is to address the allergies themselves. Management options include:
- Practicing avoidance of allergens. Strategies include staying indoors when pollen counts are high, running the air conditioner, installing a HEPA filter, bathing pets regularly and avoiding triggering foods.
- Taking allergy medications. Daily over-the-counter antihistamines are highly effective for managing most people’s allergies.
- Talking to your doctor about immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a long-term allergy solution that works by exposing your body to small amounts of allergens to help build up a tolerance.
For more information about allergy management options or to schedule an appointment with an expert allergist, call ENT of Georgia today.