Do Allergies Cause Ear Pain?
Suffering from allergies is an uncomfortable situation. In many cases, it means that at least once a year, you experience symptoms like congestion, watery eyes, and sneezing. Sometimes, allergies may even cause ear pain.
What Causes Allergies?
An allergic reaction occurs when your body's exposed to allergens. The immune system deems these harmless substances as dangerous. In response, it produces antibodies, including histamine, which cause allergy symptoms.
Histamine can lead to increased mucus production, causing a runny nose or sore throat, but your allergy symptoms can also lead to an earache, as the sinuses, nose, and throat connect to the ears.
Can Allergies Contribute to Ear Pain?
Once your immune system starts releasing histamine, you may experience ear pain. Ear pain caused by allergies typically occurs due to three different issues:
- Inflammation blocks the drainage of your Eustachian tubes
- Fluid build-ups in the middle ear, creating pressure
- Bacteria can grow in this fluid and lead to infection
Can You Get Ear Infections Due to Allergies?
If you experience an allergic reaction that causes earaches, chances are inflammation or an increase in mucus production has blocked your Eustachian tubes.
When this happens, fluid can't drain from the inner ear. If this fluid can't escape the ear canal, it's at risk for bacteria growth, which results in an ear infection, also known as otitis media. If it is an infection of the middle ears, it could lead to conductive hearing loss.
Even though over-the-counter medicines can alleviate some of your allergy symptoms, if you have an ear infection, antihistamines and nasal sprays don't help.
Is it Possible to Treat Ear Pain Caused by Allergies?
Ear pain due to an allergic reaction can be uncomfortable, but you can treat it. Over-the-counter medications can provide short-term relief for your symptoms. Some of the most effective include:
- Antihistamines: These allergy medications block the production of histamine and temporarily relieve symptoms caused by allergies
- Saline nasal rinse: Through a nasal spray or neti pot, saline nasal rinses remove allergens and mucus from the nose and sinuses
- Corticosteroid nasal spray: These nasal sprays reduce inflammation in the sinuses and can allow the Eustachian tubes to drain
When allergies affect your ears, reducing exposure to your allergens can also help with ear pain and fluid buildup. For instance, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, staying indoors when pollen counts are high can help your allergies subside.
Those with environmental allergens to dust or mold should address areas where these culprits hide, including dark, damp areas, and places where dust gathers, like carpets and behind drapery.
A cold compress over your outer ear doesn't cure middle ear infections or allergies, but it can help manage ear pain, especially if you have inflamed Eustachian tubes. The coldness of the compress decreases inflammation and reduces earaches.
If you are practicing avoidance of your allergens and trying over-the-counter medications and still suffering from congestion, itchy eyes, and middle ear pressure, it's time to consider long-lasting solutions.
What if You Have an Ear Infection?
While ear pain caused by allergies can be reduced by taking allergy medication, ear infections are more challenging to deal with. If left untreated, they can lead to hearing loss and other issues.
If the pain in your middle ear lasts longer than 10 days or is accompanied by a fever, contact your doctor, as these are symptoms of an ear infection. You may need an antibiotic, which is only available through a prescription.
What Is the Common Treatment for Middle Ear Infections or Other Types of Ear Pain?
Depending on the symptoms you experience, your doctor may prescribe different treatments to treat middle ear pain. For instance, if you feel sinus pressure or have inflamed Eustachian tubes, they might tell you to apply a cold compress to the outer ear to relieve your earache and also recommend you take antibiotics if there's an ear infection.
However, if you have ear drainage (fluid coming out of your ear canals), hearing loss, or severe pain in your inner ear, you may need a different treatment.
Other than over-the-counter allergy medications, your doctor may suggest:
People who experience mild seasonal allergies often don't consider having allergy shots. But for people whose allergies affect their ears and get a recurring middle ear infection, it may be recommended. These shots are also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy.
Allergy shots are given weekly at an allergist's office. After you get your injection, you must remain at the office for 30 minutes in case of a rare, but serious side effect called anaphylaxis.
These shots contain a small amount of the allergen that causes your allergic reaction. Because the amount is so small, your body doesn't release histamine and, therefore, you don't experience inflammation in the ear, nose, and throat or other symptoms.
Over time, the dosage increases, as does your immune system's tolerance to the allergen. This process is called desensitization.
Sublingual immunotherapy, also known as allergy drops and tablets, is similar to shots. You take it, and it is highly effective at treating allergies and reducing allergic reactions, from allergic rhinitis to inflammation in the Eustachian tube.
Like allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy contains a small amount of the allergen you react to. Thus, the ultimate goal is for your body to become used to it, so your system does not trigger a response when exposed to the allergen.
While allergy shots must be given in an allergy office, sublingual immunotherapy can be taken at home. What's more, with Wyndly's subscription service, it's never been easier to treat allergies!
Are There Other Kinds of Treatment?
Fortunately, allergy specialists have multiple solutions for treating ear pain related to allergies. They may recommend a combination of nasal sprays, antihistamines, or decongestant tablets. Your healthcare provider might also suggest:
- Chewing gum to alleviate ear pain
- Reducing exposure to your allergens
- Putting a cold pack over your ear
- Trying allergy immunotherapy
How Can You Get a Diagnosis?
To get a diagnosis, you must consult with a doctor. If you see a physician in person, they complete a physical exam to check for inflammation in or around your Eustachian tube. They may ask questions and review your medical history.
If it's deemed that your ear pressure or blocked ear is the result of an allergic reaction, you may need an allergy test to determine your specific allergens.
Allergy tests mainly come in two varieties. The first is a skin prick test, which must be administered in an allergist's office. A specialist places drops with different allergens on your back, then pricks the skin under the serum. If you have an allergy, a red, itchy hive develops.
The other type of test is a blood test. At Wyndly, we offer an at-home test kit that requires only a single finger prick. Follow the easy-to-understand directions and return the test in the provided packaging. Once the results are in, an allergy doctor creates a personalized treatment plan to address your allergic reactions.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you have mild allergies and have allergy medications that manage your symptoms, keep doing what you're doing. But if you are experiencing ear pain that doesn't go away with medication, involves hearing loss, or inflammation in the ears' mucous membranes lining, seek professional medical advice.
In cases where you think you may have damaged your eardrum or see blood in the fluid coming out of your ears, immediately contact a doctor.
Should You Worry if You Have Ear Pain?
Even though many people have concerns when experiencing pain in the ears, sometimes it's just the result of a seasonal allergy. If your ear pain is accompanied by a runny nose, increased mucus production, and otitis media, it could be an allergy to pollen, pet dander, or dust mites.
On the other hand, if you have a fever, body aches, or other signs of infection, it could be something more serious.
Will There Be Long-lasting Consequences?
Typically, there are no long-term consequences of suffering ear pain due to allergies. However, an infection of the middle ear could lead to conductive hearing loss or damage to the eardrum.
Are You Ready to Find Long-Lasting Allergy Relief?
Ear pain can be immensely uncomfortable, but there are solutions. To find a long-term solution to your allergies, turn to Wyndly. Our allergy experts can identify what's causing your allergic reaction and develop a personalized treatment plan to address it!
Take our two-minute assessment and be one step closer to long-lasting relief!