You are not alone if you suffer from allergies. Allergies are very common, affecting an estimated 50 million Americans, which is one in every six people in the United States. A wide array of allergens may trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive people through the air, by touch, or by ingestion. They can appear at any age, and can even disappear in childhood only to reappear in adulthood.
What are Allergies?
An allergy is an exaggerated immune response or reaction to substances that are generally not harmful. Those who have allergies are sensitive to more than one thing. Often, substances that cause reactions include:
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Pet dander
- Insect stings
It is believed that both genes and the environment contribute to your allergies. Many people believe an allergy as merely “hay fever,” with sneezing, a runny nose, nasal stuffiness and itchy, watery eyes. However, allergies can also cause symptoms such as chronic sinus problems, postnasal drip, head congestion, frequent colds, and recurring ear infections, hearing loss, dizziness, chronic cough and asthma. Stomach and intestinal problems, such as skin rashes, chronic headaches and fatigue can be symptoms of allergies. Allergies can affect your ears, nose and throat, among other areas of your body.
How Allergies Affect your Ears, Nose and Throat
When you suffer from allergies, the symptoms can range from a stuffy nose to an ear infection or sore throat. Depending on your allergy, various parts of your body such as your ears, nose and throat can be significantly affected.
One of the most common medical problems in children is otitis media, or middle ear infection. These infections are especially common in early childhood. They are even more common when children suffer from allergic rhinitis as well. Allergic inflammation can cause swelling in the nose and around the opening of the ear canal. The swelling has potential to interfere with drainage of the middle ear. When bacteria laden discharge clogs the tube, infection is more likely.
Allergies can cause enough inflammation that the opening to the sinuses is obstructed. A bacterial sinus infection occurs as a result. Allergens that are breathed in can often cause a stuffy nose, itchy nose and throat, mucus production, cough, or wheezing.
Various allergens may also lead to the formation of too much mucus which can make the nose run or drip down the back of the throat, leading to “post-nasal drip.” It can lead to cough, sore throats, and a husky voice. Although more common in older people and in dry inland climates, thick, dry mucus can also irritate the throat and be hard to clear. Air conditioning, winter heating, and dehydration can aggravate the condition as well.
The best way to avoid your symptoms is to avoid what causes your allergies in the first place. With help from your ENT doctor you can successfully control and alleviate your allergy symptoms. Your ENT doctor will perform various tests in order to come to a proper diagnosis, allowing you to breathe easily.
Have questions about treatments for allergies from Dr. Richard Palesano?
Call our Daphne, AL office at (251) 470-8832 for more information.