Ear pain is not just a childhood ailment; people of all ages can suffer from it. There are numerous causes of ear pain, including impacted earwax, infection and even allergies.
What Is an Allergic Reaction?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for the more than 50 million Americans, their immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, certain foods, mold and insect stings as a dangerous intruder. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and your immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy and runny nose
- Wheezing and chest tightness
- Itchy, watery red eyes
- Swollen lips, tongue and eyes
- Stomach pain
- Dry and red skin
While not the most common allergy symptom, ear pain often accompanies seasonal allergies, as exposure to pollen can lead to swelling and inflammation of the Eustachian tubes. This inflammation can cause pressure to build up within the ear, leading to an earache.
Some may also experience short-term hearing loss as a result of swollen Eustachian tubes. Most will regain their hearing when the allergic reaction is treated, usually with an over-the-counter antihistamine.
The production of histamine from an allergic reaction can cause the mucus membrane lining your ears and nasal cavities to swell. This can create a blockage and prevent fluid from properly draining, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
When the fluid becomes infected, pressure can build up within the middle ear causing pain, redness and swelling of the eardrum. This is known medically as otitis media. In addition to ear pain, an infection of the middle ear can lead to tinnitus and dizziness.
In severe cases, the pressure within the middle ear can cause the eardrum to rupture. This requires immediate medical attention.
Taking steps to treat your allergies can help prevent unwanted ear pain. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a professional, contact Carolina Ear, Nose, Throat, Sinus & Allergy today.
Learn More About Allergies and Sinuses
- How to Survive Summer Allergies
- When Will My Sinus Infection Go Away?
- New Drug Could Bring Relief to Sinusitis Patients with Nasal Polyps