How Can Allergies Affect Your Ears?

Photo of a woman sneezing into a tissueUsually, we associate ear discomfort with children, who are prone to infections due to the fact that their Eustachian tubes don’t drain as easily as adults’. However, it’s certainly possible to experience ear discomfort as an adult, and the reason may surprise you. It may be allergies causing your problems.

What Is an Allergic Reaction?

Your immune system is responsible for defending your body from invaders like viruses and bacteria, but sometimes it mistake a harmless substance for something dangerous and attacks. The result is an allergic reaction.

During a reaction, the immune system releases antibodies that send a message to cells to release a chemical called histamine. Histamine prompts the blood vessels to expand and causes other symptoms you know so well, such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny or stuffy nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Coughing, wheezing and tight chest
  • Rash, hives and swelling
  • Itchy or painful ears

Allergies Can Cause Ear Pain

While earaches aren’t necessarily the most common symptom of an allergic reaction – which is why you may not suspect allergies as the cause – it can happen. This is because the membrane lining the Eustachian tube can become swollen and inflamed, and this inflammation can lead to an imbalance in the pressure of the ears. The result is fluid buildup and a blocked ear.

Allergies Can Cause Ear Infections, Too

If you have allergies, you’re at a higher risk for developing ear infections. This is because when the Eustachian tubes are blocked and fluid begins to pool, the ears become a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to an infection. This type of infection is known as otitis media, which can cause other symptoms such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness and balance issues. In rare but severe cases, the eardrum may even rupture.

Risk of Hearing Loss

When the ear is inflamed, especially during an infection, you may experience temporary hearing loss. This type of hearing loss, caused by an obstruction in the ear, is called conductive hearing loss. Typically, this type of hearing loss will resolve once the blockage is cleared. For more information about the link between allergies and ear problems, call the experts at the PIH Health House Clinic!

Los Angeles: 213.483.9930
Orange: 714.516.9570


This information is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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