Allergy season is in full effect right now and coincidentally you might have noticed that you tend to get ear infections around this time of the year as well. You are probably wondering, can allergies cause ear infections? Here is all you need to know about ear infections and allergy season.
What Causes an Ear Infection?
Middle ear infections or Otitis media are seen regularly among young children. More than 20 million doctor visits a year in the United States are for acute ear infections. They can also present themselves in adults. Inflammation in the auditory tube, sinuses, and nasal passages is one of the main causes for an ear infection. Inflammation can occur due to allergies, viruses, and blockage.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms can vary from person to person but beware of the following:
Pressure building in your ear
To determine exactly what you are allergic to, it’s highly recommended to get an allergy test to determine any food allergies or others such as pollen. See a specialist that can perform a physical examination of your ear to see if there is a buildup of fluid.
After testing, the doctor can tell you what foods or environments to avoid in order to prevent ear infections and other uncomfortable allergy symptoms. If that is not an option, he or she may prescribe medication to treat the symptoms. Antihistamine is a common remedy.
Antibiotics may also be necessary to kill the bacteria.
Chronic and untreated ear infections can lead to permanent damage in the form of the following:
Hearing Loss: Permanent damage to your eardrum or other areas of the middle ear can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Speech Problems: This problem is especially critical to avoid in young children. Toddlers that experience hearing loss due to ear infections can have trouble with learning how to talk which can make it difficult for them to socialize.
Acute infection: An infection that doesn’t go away can spread to more areas and cause more damage to tissue and bone leading to life-threatening emergencies.
Ruptured Eardrum: Tearing of the tissue that separates the ear canal from the middle ear can happen after prolonged infection.
Risk Factors for Ear Infections
People that are more likely to develop ear infections:
Children under the age of 3: Their developing immune system and small size leave them susceptible to ear infections. Only 1 out of 6 children do not contract an ear infection before their third birthday.
Children in groups: children in groups a more exposed to infections such as the common cold
Bottle-fed babies: Babies that lie down during feeding can get formula in their Eustachian tubes.
Environments that are likely to cause ear infections:
Fall and Winter: Viruses are active most during this time
Avoid the common cold: It’s easier said than done but it’s important to avoid being in contact with viruses that can cause flu symptoms.
Avoid being around secondhand smoke: If someone you know is a smoker, let them know to take it outside and away from you and your children.
Try breastfeeding: Breastfeeding may not always be possible but if it can be done, it is highly recommended. When it comes to breastfeeding, the mother has more control over the direction the baby faces when feeding. If you are bottle-feeding keep your baby in an upright position.
Vaccinate: Flu shots can help prevent the flu that can cause ear infections. Shots like the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helped decrease the number of ear infections seen in children under the age of 3 by 34%.