Seasonal Allergies Affect the Ears, Nose, and Throat

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, grass and pollen are the most prevalent allergens. When these small particles come into contact with your mouth, nose, or eyes, your body releases histamines to combat the intruders; these antibodies are what cause your watery eyes and sneezing.

Depending on the region where you live, the peak months for these environmental triggers will vary. However, for most parts of the United States, allergy season begins in February and continues on until the summer months. Prolonged rainy conditions will encourage mold and increased plant growth, pushing the allergy season on into the fall.

Plants like ragweed, sagebrush, mugwort, are the biggest cause of allergies in the autumn. To help mitigate your suffering, monitor pollen and mold sites to track days with the highest counts.

Your ears, nose, and throat all have separate functions, but they interact closely with each other.

Did you know? Your sinus cavities act as resonance chambers for sounds, and these air pockets are connected to your throat and ears.

When sinus passages become congested through inflammation or mucus accumulation (AKA allergies), our ears hurt. The open connection between nose, ears and throat allows for the exchange of fluids, permitting the transformation of a cold into an excruciatingly painful ear infection.

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Nose and throat:

  1. Nasal allergies can cause sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, and nasal drainage
  2. Allergies may 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
  3. Fatigue is one of the most common, and most debilitating, allergic symptoms

Ears:

  1. Your inner ear is filled with a pressure-sensitive fluid that reacts to environmental shifts in pressure. As the seasons change, the outside air pressure is affected and this causes that uncomfortable feeling of needing to pop your ears
  2. The presence of allergens like ragweed only make the issue worse–when your immune system reacts by producing histamine and mucus, they cause your Eustachian tubes to become inflamed and your ears further clogged by excess fluid and wax
  3.  The result is discomfort, fullness and pressure along with the potential of other unpleasant symptoms such as tinnitus, vertigo, and even conductive hearing loss

Combatting Seasonal Allergies

  1. Using OTC antihistamines, nasal steroids, and decongestants will help treat your allergy symptoms, by blocking the receptors that trigger your immuno-response, reduce your mucosal production and decrease sinus pressure
  2. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter– this will help pick up the particulate inside your house and on your floor
  3. Remember to keep shoes outside, and keep windows closed
  4. When working outside on the lawn, wear a face mask to reduce the amount of pollen and grass you inhale
  5. If you are extra stuffed up, try boiling a big pot of water with peppermint steeped in it. When the water has cooled off a little, but is still hot, place a towel over your head and your head over the pot and inhale the steam for a few minutes at a time. The peppermint steam will help unclog your sinuses and your pores

Lauren Conte is an undergraduate studying Strategic Communication at Texas Christian University. She works at Eosera Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas

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