Do you ever feel dizzy, lightheaded, or unsteady when you have an allergic reaction? It doesn't happen very often, but there seem to be various reasons why allergies make you dizzy. Occasionally, allergies can even result in vertigo, which is a more severe form of dizziness.
Research suggests that the body's immune response to allergens can impact the inner ear and vestibular system, leading to dizziness. When your body detects an allergen, it releases histamine, which is a chemical that triggers the allergic reaction. Excess histamine can cause dizziness by affecting the inner ear.
But Why do allergies cause dizziness? And how to manage them?
This article will explain what allergy-induced dizziness is, what causes it, and what treatment options are available.
What is allergy-induced dizziness?
Let’s start with the basic concepts.
Allergies are the body's way of reacting to things it sees as harmful, even if these substances are generally harmless. The immune system, made to defend against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, can sometimes misinterpret everyday substances as threats, triggering an allergic response.
The National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicates that more than 25% of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies often come with common symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion. However, there is a lesser-known link between allergies and dizziness that many people are unaware of.
So, how can seasonal allergies cause dizziness?
It’s all connected. Allergies may lead to sinus pressure. As a result, you feel extreme headaches and dizziness. It may additionally trigger ear problems. This can throw off your sense of balance and make you feel tired and dizzy. If your dizziness worsens during allergy season, these could be to blame.
So, what is allergy-induced dizziness? This term refers to the dizziness experienced as a result of an allergic reaction. It's important to distinguish this from another commonly misunderstood term: Vertigo.
Dizziness Vs Vertigo
Many people confuse dizziness with vertigo. But they are different conditions. Unlike general dizziness, which may make you feel unsteady, vertigo creates a false sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving.
While allergy-induced dizziness may involve a range of sensations, understanding vertigo is essential to identify the root cause accurately.
What is allergy-induced vertigo?
Vertigo is a rare yet serious allergic symptom. It is especially common in people who have allergic rhinitis. When a person has vertigo, the environment appears to spin around them, and they temporarily lose their sense of balance.
It is caused by a dysfunction in the brain's or inner ear's balance system. Vertigo could last for a few minutes or several days.
Even if they are calm and immobile, they may feel as if they are moving or floating in water. It can make them unsteady on their feet and is usually accompanied by symptoms such as nausea and severe headaches.
Causes of Allergy-induced Dizziness
Usually, common allergy symptoms that impact your inner ear and your sense of balance lead to dizziness. Allergy-induced vertigo can also be caused by allergens.
Here are the potential ways allergies cause vertigo or dizziness.
i) Inner ear issues
Your inner ear helps in the maintenance of your sense of balance. Dizziness might arise when there is an issue with your ears. When you have allergies, nasal congestion can lead to swelling within your ears and nose.
Your eustachian tubes may not be able to function properly due to the swelling inside your ears. Eustachian tubes are tiny tubes that run from your sinuses to your ears.
In other words, they are the internal structures found in your ears that help regulate internal pressure.
If they are unable to maintain the proper balance of pressure inside their ears, it may result in elevated inner ear pressure, which in turn causes dizziness.
However, only some allergy sufferers experience dizziness. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Association, around 13% of patients with nasal allergy symptoms had dizziness as a result of inner ear difficulties.
ii) Side effects of Medication
Most people go for OTC antihistamine pills to treat their allergies. However, some of these drugs come with possible side effects, such as dizziness.
Older antihistamines, known for inducing drowsiness, are more prone to triggering various side effects, including dizziness in some.
Should you experience such side effects, your doctor may suggest switching to newer antihistamines, which are less likely to cause any adverse effects, including vertigo.
This is another unusual allergy sign that may cause vertigo in some. Your inner ear may swell due to congestion, which could interfere with the eustachian tubes' ability to drain.
These tubes are unable to control inner ear pressure in the absence of adequate drainage, which can cause severe dizziness.
iv) Anaphylactic shock
In rare cases, allergens can cause a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal condition that demands immediate medical attention.
Along with hives, nausea, and swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, and skin, dizziness can be symptoms of anaphylaxis. Consult your doctor right away if you are having an anaphylactic response.
v) Post-nasal drip
Post-nasal drip may trigger mucus to accumulate in your eustachian tubes, causing dizziness and interrupting your balance regulation. This is very common when you have allergies.
This mucus flows from your nasal passage to your throat, where it is drained by the eustachian tubes.
Management and Treatment of Allergy-induced Dizziness
To take care of your dizziness symptoms, you must first treat and manage the underlying allergy symptoms that are causing them. The best strategy to treat an allergy is to stay away from the allergen altogether.
First, the doctor will attempt to identify the root cause of your allergy-induced dizziness. This is normally done by a conventional allergy test, which includes a complete analysis of your specific allergens.
If they think that your atypical dizziness has been brought on by seasonal allergies, they will discuss the following treatment options with you.
1. Stay away from allergens:
The first and most obvious step to manage your vertigo caused by allergies is to limit your exposure to allergens. You can do this in many ways. For seasonal allergies, check the pollen count when you get in the morning. Various apps and websites are available to tell you the local pollen count.
Wear a HEPA filter mask and try to stay indoors as much as possible. During allergy season, keep your windows closed and your air conditioner on.
Also, keep your home clean to limit your exposure to allergens like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, especially if you have carpet on.
2. Allergy medication
There are plenty of medication options for battling allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are among the most commonly used and effective over-the-counter drugs for treating allergy symptoms, including dizziness.
Antihistamines, which are readily available on the market, provide short-term relief from seasonal allergy symptoms.
Since these OTC drugs provide comfort from congestion and coughing, they may minimize inflammation in the ear balance and prevent dizziness.
Apart from antihistamines, other types of medications for managing allergies or the symptoms of seasonal allergies include nasal steroid sprays, corticosteroid pills, decongestants, and neti pots. These treatments may give the necessary relief by treating nasal inflammation and congestion.
Dizziness can sometimes be a sign of celiac disease, which is caused by an immunological response to gluten. If allergies aren't causing your dizziness, your doctor may want to keep an eye on your diet.
Hence, you might have to look into what foods have cross-reactivity with pollen allergens. There are a number of foods whose proteins are like those of grass, tree, and weed pollen.
Therefore, if you have an allergy to specific pollen types, consuming such foods may trigger allergy symptoms, including dizziness.
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Medication may alleviate your allergy symptoms, but it does nothing to treat the underlying cause. Yes, we're talking about immunotherapy, which is a preventative treatment that involves getting a gradually increased dose of the substance you are allergic to.
Your symptoms will eventually become less noticeable when you come into contact with the allergen in the future.
There are various types of allergy immunotherapy, including allergy shots, SLIT, and tablets.
If you’re searching for allergy treatment that can provide you with long-term relief, sublingual immunotherapy is the best option.
Your immune system is gradually exposed to increasing doses of your allergen through Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). By doing this, your immune system is retrained to reject these substances rather than reacting allergicly.
SLIT is a simple, painless method of immunotherapy that can be performed at home. You will eventually feel fewer symptoms and get long-term relief.
5. Alternative Therapies
You may also want to try alternative remedies for your allergies. Some people find acupuncture useful. This procedure used in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involves inserting needles into desired points on the body.
Some studies have suggested that herbal supplements including butterbur can also be beneficial for people with allergies.
Keep in mind, though, that unpurified butterbur has the potential to harm your liver. So always confirm with your doctor before using any kind of herbal supplements for your allergies.
6. Practice good sinus hygiene:
Always keep your sinuses clean as it might help ease congestion and lower your risk of infection. To get rid of allergens and irritants from the sinuses, use saline nasal sprays. You may also install a humidifier in your room to moisten the air inside.
7. Stay hydrated:
Drink lots of water and healthy juices to keep the mucus thin and prevent nasal congestion. If you stay hydrated, you will experience less dizziness while maintaining your body balance.
8. Open your eustachian tube:
You may encourage the eustachian tube to open more often and allow your ear pressure to get back to normal by swallowing, yawning, and inhaling steam.
When to see your doctor
If you experience frequent dizziness and don't know what's causing it, ask your doctor or a healthcare specialist since it could be a sign of a more serious condition. If over-the-counter drugs and at-home treatments aren't helping, speak to an authorized allergy specialist.
Allergies can be difficult to live with, but some people battle with more than just regular sneezing and itchy eyes. As we can see, allergies to airborne chemicals can result in dizziness at times.
This symptom is usually caused by a swollen and clogged auditory tube in the ear. It can be a sign of anaphylaxis in some people.
You can treat allergy-related dizziness with a prescription or OTC medication. Try to avoid allergens as much as you can. After all, the key is to determine the reason for your dizziness and treat the cause rather than the symptom itself.
Lastly, feeling dizzy or off-balance can be frightening, but you shouldn’t feel panic. If you have additional allergy symptoms, the vertigo is related. Consult your doctor if it gets more frequent.
1. How do you get rid of dizziness from allergies?
Ans: You can get rid of dizziness from allergies by using prescription or OTC antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants.
2. Why do I get dizzy during allergy season?
Ans: In allergy season, the chances of allergic reactions are high. If your eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked, which can happen due to seasonal allergies, your sense of balance is thrown off. This can lead to feelings of dizziness.
3. What allergy medicine is good for dizziness?
Ans: The best medicine for overcoming dizziness is over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines such as meclizine or dimenhydrinate. But be careful, as some antihistamines may cause drowsiness. Confirm it once with a pharmacist or healthcare specialist.
4. How long does allergy dizziness last?
Ans: For some people, allergy dizziness may come and go depending on their exposure to allergens. Others may experience chronic vertigo that lasts for weeks.
5. What foods are good for dizziness?
Ans: Fruits rich in vitamin C, vegetables, nuts, and ginger are known to be effective in reducing dizziness caused by seasonal allergies.