Few have heard about the link between allergies and ear infection, but many have experienced it. While it makes sense that the nasal congestion that goes along with allergies can cause your ears to feel blocked and/or painful, it wasn't until a decade ago that the full extent of how allergies and ear infection diagnoses relate was understood.

Allergies and Ear Infections

A ground-breaking study presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology's 1998 annual conference was the first to explore the actual mechanism that occurs to cause people with allergies to be prone to getting an infection in their middle ear. The study, which was led by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, was awarded the 1998 Basic Science Award because of the impact that its findings had on increasing the understanding in the medical field of the mechanics of allergic ear infections and how to effectively treat and prevent them.

Research Efforts

The scientists used rats to see first-hand how the body handles middle ear inflammation and the buildup of fluid that often accompanies this problem.

What they discovered was that allergies cause swelling in the ear and also in the Eustachian tube that connects the ear and the throat to allow proper drainage. As a result of this inflammation, the fluid can become trapped inside and can lead to an infection. While these findings weren't wholly unexpected, this is the first time that they've been studied first-hand in animals.

Additionally, researchers found that by giving the rats an antihistamine, the allergic inflammation reaction was prevented and this effectively headed off the fluid build up and prevented the infection.

Heading Off Allergies and Ear Infection

If you find yourself suffering from blocked ears and related ear infections when your allergies are bad, these findings may lead to new ways to prevent the problems. In the meantime, it can be worth taking an antihistamine to try to head off this reaction.

By reducing the inflammation that occurs with allergies, you can reduce your risk of ear problems. If you find it's too late to prevent the infection, however, your doctor may still recommend you take antihistamines to treat an existing infection. Just keep in mind that if your ear infection isn't related to allergies, this approach may not make you feel any better. In that case, consult a doctor.


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