Seasonal allergies, often known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, affect a surprising number of people around the world. It occurs when our immune system overreacts to allergens which trigger allergic responses in our body. This can include pollen from plants and trees, indoor mold spores, or even flakes of skin off certain animals. These allergies can come with a number of different symptoms, but are they likely to cause dizziness?
Can allergies cause dizziness?
The most common symptoms of an allergy often include itchy eyes, sneezing, and potentially a runny nose. However, some people may also experience a light amount of dizziness. This is fairly common for people who are facing allergy symptoms, but it can often be hard to notice since it’s usually chalked up to your head feeling “stuffy”.
However, there is a connection between allergies and the vestibular system, a sensory system that regulates information in our brain about motion and head position. When this system is disrupted by an allergy, it can lead to a number of different problems that cause the feeling of dizziness.
How can allergies make you dizzy?
We get dizzy from allergies due to the way our body handles an allergy.
We have eustachian tubes that connect the middle of our ears to the back of our throat. Their purpose is to drain fluid and equalize the air pressure in our ears, but they can sometimes become blocked due to conditions like a common cold, allergy, or even an infection. These tubes are naturally unblocked by our body, but if you have a long-lasting or severe allergy then it can also disrupt the vestibular system that it is connected to.
As such, if an allergy causes problems with your eustachian tubes, then it can lead to a feeling of dizziness or vertigo. In some severe cases, allergies can cause ear pain as well due to eustachian tubes becoming inflamed as a result of the blockage.
What does dizziness from allergies feel like?
Dizziness from allergies can feel like you are losing your balance when moving, but it’ll be accompanied by typical cold-like symptoms such as itchiness in the eyes and sneezing. You may feel that it’s a little difficult to maintain your balance when walking, and the world around you might be spinning.
How long does dizziness last with allergies?
Since the dizziness is caused by issues with your vestibular system as a result of blockages or swelling of your eustachian tubes, the dizziness will typically last as long as the allergy does. Once the eustachian tubes are unblocked or return to their normal size, you can expect the dizziness to also subside.
What is allergy-induced vertigo?
Vertigo is a symptom that creates a sensation that the environment around you is moving. It can often be hard to notice, but it may be severe enough that it makes it difficult for you to balance while moving and doing daily tasks. Allergy-induced vertigo is when it’s caused by allergies.
This is because allergies tend to cause our body to create more mucus in an attempt to flush out the allergens. However, if there’s a significant build-up of mucus then it can affect our sinuses and the vestibular system which is responsible for our sense of balance. If the blockage isn’t cleared up or is particularly bad, then it can cause symptoms of vertigo caused by allergies.
How to treat dizziness from allergies?
In order to treat the dizziness from seasonal allergies, it’s important to deal with the allergy itself first. Unfortunately, this can be difficult because we can’t avoid every allergen in the air. While wearing a mask and staying away from sources of allergens can help, we may eventually be affected by them and we’ll need to use various treatment options to help calm our symptoms.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to use over-the-counter medication and prescription medication to help relieve the symptoms of the allergy. This will clear up the eustachian tubes, thus treating the dizziness that we get from allergies.
What else could be causing your dizziness?
Research shows that an estimated 5% of primary care clinic visits are related to dizziness. Not all of these are allergy-related, but it does show that dizziness is a fairly common symptom that we experience. In addition to an allergy, dizziness can also be caused by:
- Migraine attacks
- Too much alcohol consumption
- Inner ear problems that cause issues with balance regulation
- Antiepileptic drugs
- Blood pressure medication
- Muscle relaxants
- Excessive movement and exercise
- Heat exhaustion
- Multiple sclerosis
- Motion sickness
- Viral infections
Since there are many different causes of dizziness, you might find it hard to isolate the exact cause without help from a medical professional.
When to see a doctor?
Dizziness often isn’t concerning enough that you should see a doctor, especially if it’s related to seasonal allergies and isn’t affecting your daily life. However, if the dizziness is sudden and severe and isn’t related to allergies, then you may want to seek urgent virtual care or medical care to help diagnose the symptoms and look for viable treatment options.
If the dizziness occurs with other sudden and severe symptoms such as chest pain or a headache, then we highly recommend that you seek urgent medical attention immediately.
- Dizziness can be caused by allergies.
- Allergies can cause dizziness due to the way an allergy blocks our eustachian tubes which are connected to our vestibular system which regulates balance.
- Dizziness from allergies feels much like any other dizziness you might experience, but it’ll be associated with other cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose or itchy eyes.
- Allergies cause vertigo.
- Treating dizziness from allergies involves treating the allergy first.
- Seeking urgent virtual care can help identify if your dizziness is caused by allergies.
- Allergies, Mayo Clynic. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497
- HOLCOMB, SUSAN SIMMONS ARNP, BC, PhD. The stuffy head blues. Nursing made Incredibly Easy!: March 2006 – Volume 4 – Issue 2 – p 64. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/nursingmadeincrediblyeasy/Citation/2006/03000/The_stuffy_head_blues.11.aspx
- Eustachian Tubes, Cleveland Clinic. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22072-eustachian-tubes
- Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Aug 15;82(4):361-8, 369. PMID: 20704166.