Joseph B. Henninger
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Can Allergies Cause Ear Pain?

Allergies are a common problem - especially during the spring and summer when trees and plants are blooming and pollen is in the air. When most people hear the word allergy, they think of seasonal allergies and hay fever - but allergies can also involve immune responses to food, medications, mold, bee stings, pets, cosmetics, and more. The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes, which most people experience to varying degrees. Some people also complain of ear discomfort during allergy season.

Can It Cause The Pain?
 
There is an association between them. A cold or allergies can cause the thin tube (the eustachian tube) that connects the middle ear and the nose to become blocked an inflamed - a condition is known as eustachian tube dysfunction. When this happens, mucous and fluid produced can't adequately drain - and it becomes trapped. When fluid is trapped, it creates the perfect environment for the growth of bacteria. The result is a painful ear infection.
 
Hearing May Be Affected
 
In some cases, a cold or allergies causes blockage of the eustachian tube with fluid build-up in the middle ear without the fluid becoming infected. When this happens, there's usually no ear pain, but the hearing may be reduced as the fluid thickens and interferes with the eardrum's ability to vibrate and transmit sound. The ear can also very full and may "pop" with swallowing.
 
Children are at a higher risk for eustachian tube dysfunction and fluid in their ear because their eustachian tubes are narrow and are angled more horizontally than an adult's. Children are also more likely to have enlarged adenoids which can obstruct the eustachian tube.
 
How Is It Treated?
 
Ear pain with allergies usually requires a doctor's visit because pain means that the fluid has become infected. If the only symptom is ear fullness without pain, the goal is to open up the blocked eustachian tube so that fluid and mucous can drain more normally. Decongestants and nasal steroid sprays help by reducing the inflammation and by decreasing swelling of the mucous membranes. They also help to relieve some of the other symptoms of allergy.
 
In some cases, the ear doesn't get better with treatment. It is considered to be chronic if it doesn't go away after six weeks. When this happens, some doctors recommend placing ear tubes to help promote better drainage - particularly if hearing is affected. Fortunately, most middle ear fluid resolves over several weeks without the need for tube placement.
 
The Bottom Line
 
There is an association between allergies and ear pain, but when pain occurs it usually indicates an ear infection caused by the build-up of fluid from the allergy. If you have both of these two problems, it's best to see a doctor.
 
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Geschreven op: 07-07-2018
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