If you experience chronic ear infections and also allergies, you may be wondering if the two conditions are linked. In fact, in many cases, they are. We review this connection below.
Why Are Ear Infections & Allergies Linked?
It all comes down to the Eustachian tubes. These tubes connect the middle ears to the back of the throat to allow fluid to drain and air pressure to equalize.
For people with allergies, when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance like pollen at Trailwood Dog Park for a dangerous intruder, it attacks. During this attack, it releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to produce histamine. Histamine triggers inflammation, including within the Eustachian tubes.
When the Eustachian tubes are inflamed, they become blocked, and fluid can no longer drain. This trapped fluid can then begin to grow bacteria, and a middle ear infection is the result.
Recognizing an Ear Infection
You may have an ear infection if:
- You experience pain, pressure or discomfort in the ears.
- You have pus-like drainage coming from the ears.
- You experience hearing loss or balance problems.
Your child may have an ear infection if:
- They are rubbing or pulling on their ears
- They have a fever
- They aren’t reacting to certain sounds
- They have balance problems
- They are fussy or restless
- They aren’t eating as much as usual
There are many ways to treat allergies, including:
- Practicing avoidance of known allergens. You can only do this once you know what you’re allergic to. Schedule an appointment for an allergy test with Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists.
- Taking allergy medications. These include antihistamines, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays.
- Undergoing immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is available in both shot and drop form and takes a three- to five-year commitment.
Treating Ear Infections
If your infection is mild, your doctor may want to take a wait-and-see approach. During this time, to treat the infection, you can:
- Apply a warm compress to the affected ear.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, ear drops and decongestants.
- Avoid sleeping on the affected ear.
If your infection persists or worsens, or if you’re experiencing a fever over 102 degrees, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics.
For children who experience persistent ear infections, ear tubes may be surgically placed.
To learn more about the link between ear infections and allergies or to schedule an appointment with a specialist, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.