If you’ve ever had an ear infection, you know that ear pain can be really unpleasant (to put it mildly), but did you know that allergies can also make your ears hurt? That means your next earache may leave you wondering if you should make an appointment with an otolaryngologist—that’s an ear, nose, and throat doctor—or look into trying a new antihistamine.
We know how confusing it can be to figure out what’s causing your symptoms when you have allergies (especially if you’re prone to infections, too). That’s why we spoke to expert allergist and Picnic Medical Director Dr. Amina Abdeldaim to clear up all of your questions about allergies and ear pain.
When allergies cause ear pain, it’s a little like a plumbing problem, but in your body instead of your bathroom. Allergies cause nasal congestion and swelling, which in turn causes pressure to build up in the eustachian tubes, which connect your ears to your throat and nasal cavity.
We experience that built-up pressure as ear pain or a feeling of fullness in the ears. Your ears may also itch, which is caused by histamines (the same chemicals that cause allergies).
If you’re experiencing ear pain alongside common allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose or nasal congestion, that’s a good sign that the pain could be allergy-related. But you should see an otolaryngologist if you notice severe pain or hearing loss. But you should see an otolaryngologist if you notice severe pain, pain in only one ear, or hearing loss.
Antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and oral decongestants can help with both ear pain and allergies. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers and acetaminophen can relieve pain, but be sure to talk to your doctor before taking them.
Regular use of intranasal steroids like nasal sprays can reduce swelling and inflammation in the nose, which prevents pressure from building up and causing ear pain. But whether or not that works for you can depend on your anatomy.
If you frequently experience ear pain from allergies, it might be time to visit an otolaryngologist.
Living with allergies is hard enough without having to deal with ear pain on top of all your other symptoms. Luckily, the right medication can treat both your allergies and that troublesome earache.
Need help finding the right treatment for your symptoms? Take our allergist-built quiz and a Picnic doctor can recommend the best allergy treatments for your needs.