Now that it’s winter, allergies aren’t top of mind for most people in Boone and Jefferson, but they can occur year-round. In fact, there’s often a spike in December. After all, it’s the one month during the year where you’re likely to find a tree taking up space in the living room. This can trigger the usual allergy symptoms, and might even make you feel dizzy…a fact that’s got nothing to do with all those gift receipts you’re filing away.
The Eustachian Tube & Vestibular System
Why do we get allergies?
Allergies are the body’s response to a foreign substance the immune system perceives as a threat. To defend against the invader, histamine is released into the bloodstream.
What are the most common allergy symptoms?
This causes cold-like symptoms that include runny nose, sneezing, congestion and itchy, watery eyes. And, in some people vertigo.
What are symptoms of dizziness?
Dizziness is a blanket term that describes multiple symptoms.
A person might feel lightheaded, faint or unsteady. In some cases, they are unable to determine their location and motion in relation to their physical environment.
Vertigo is a type of dizziness that causes a person to experience a spinning sensation. There are two types of vertigo: subjective (the feeling that you are moving) and objective (the feeling that your surroundings moving). It’s the result of a dysfunction in the balance system of the brain or inner ear. Vertigo may last anywhere from a few minutes to several days.
What causes vertigo?
There are many possible causes of vertigo, ranging from inner ear disorders to head trauma or tumors.
How do allergies cause vertigo?
A less common cause is allergies. These can affect the Eustachian tube, an organ that connects the middle ear to the nose and throat. The Eustachian tube is responsible for regulating pressure in the middle ear; the increased mucus production associated with allergies can result in swelling and inflammation of this organ, negatively impacting not only the nose but also the ears, since all the structures are connected.
The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, controls balance; inflammation and infection in the middle ear can therefore cause dizziness and vertigo.
If you are experiencing vertigo that is the result of allergies, your Boone ear, nose and throat doctor might be able to provide relief by resolving your allergy symptoms.
Over-the-counter allergy treatments
You may be given nasal steroids, decongestants, topical or oral antihistamines or corticosteroids, nasal sprays or prescription drugs targeting vertigo.
Doctor provided allergy treatments
In severe cases, immunotherapy may be your best option. This involves injections (“allergy shots”) that help your body build up a tolerance to the allergen, leading to a reduction in symptoms over time.
How can you prevent winter allergies?
To protect against winter allergies, wash bed linens in hot water; keep pets outdoors or away from bedding and invest in a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
If you are experiencing vertigo that may be associated with allergies or would like more information, contact an ENT doctor in Boone or Jefferson.
Learn more about hearing health
- Hearing screening in the New Year
- Hearing aids and the holidays
- Why does single-side hearing loss occur?