Allergy is an often-inherited immune condition in which the affected person overreacts to something that is not typically harmful to the immune system. The allergen (any substance that triggers an allergic reaction) can enter the body by mouth, contact with the skin, or inhalation into the nose, throat and lungs.
How Common Are Allergies?
Allergies are among America’s most common and costly health problems. They affect as many as one in four people and can range in severity from mild to severe. Allergy reactions create symptoms that not only disrupt a person’s quality of life, but can also become the basis of more serious issues like recurrent infections or breathing problems like asthma.
What Are the Symptoms of Ear, Nose and Throat Allergies?
People often think of allergy only as hay fever and have a vision of the Zyrtec commercial in mind. However, allergies can cause much more than sneezing, runny nose, nasal stuffiness and itchy, watery eyes. They can sometimes be the basis of chronic sinus problems, postnasal drip, head congestion, frequent colds, hoarse voice, eczema, recurring ear infections, hearing loss, dizziness, chronic cough and asthma. Even swallowing, gut and bladder problems can be symptoms of allergy. For more patient resources on ENT symptoms and allergy treatment options, click here.
Symptoms of ear, nose, and throat allergies may include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Cold-like symptoms more than 10 days
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Diminished or loss of sense of smell or taste
- Fluctuating hearing loss and/or ear ringing
- Frequent throat clearing and sore throats
- Mouth breathing and snoring
- Nasal itching, rubbing or congestion
- Repeated sneezing and runny nose
- Recurrent, unexplained nosebleeds
- Recurrent ear infections
- Recurrent sinus infections
- Symptoms recur same time each year
What causes Symptoms to Begin?
The onset of noticeable allergy symptoms may be sudden or gradual. Often, symptoms develop following an event that is stressful to the immune system, such as a severe viral infection or even pregnancy. Allergies can develop at any age or stage of life. Children with allergic parents can inherit the immune dysfunction earlier in life but the allergies may not be in reaction to the same triggers or present with the same symptoms as the parents.
Can an Allergy be Outgrown?
Not typically, but the nature of the allergy symptom can change over the years. For example, a baby may exhibit colic, ear infection, or eczema, whereas at an older age, the child’s symptoms may transform into hay fever, chronic sinusitis or asthma.
How Are Allergies Diagnosed?
Contrary to popular belief, the diagnosis of allergy is not based on an allergy test, it is made by history and physical examination. The role of allergy testing is to confirm the identity of specific allergens that trigger a response in that individual. Allergy testing can confirm suspicion of the diagnosis and give the patient access to longer lasting treatment options such as immunotherapy (desensitizing and coaching the immune system not to over-respond to otherwise harmless allergens).
Have questions or interested in allergy testing? Call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our ENT Allergists.