It’s not unusual to experience common allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and an itchy throat. Sinus pressure from allergies, however, can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and vertigo. These may be related to more serious issues.
If you’re feeling dizzy, you might be wondering what’s causing it. Dehydration, medications, and a variety of conditions can cause you to feel dizzy and nauseated.
While dizziness might seem like a mild condition, it can actually be very disruptive to daily life. It can even be so severe that it leaves you stuck in bed for hours or days.
Dizziness can sometimes be caused by allergies.
An allergy is the immune system’s response to a foreign substance that’s not typically harmful to your body. These foreign substances are called allergens. They may include certain foods, pollen, or pet dander.
Allergy-induced dizziness can be caused by allergens.
If you’re allergic to certain airborne substances, including dust, pollen, and pet dander, your body begins releasing chemicals including histamine to fight off these perceived intruders. These chemicals are the cause of what you know of as allergy symptoms.
Typical allergy symptoms include:
Allergies can affect the Eustachian tube. This tube is essentially a tunnel that connects your middle ear to the back of your throat and helps to regulate your balance, while also equalizing the pressure in your middle ear with the ambient air pressure.
When you begin experiencing symptoms in your ears, including that annoying clogged feeling that can make it difficult to hear, it’s often because your Eustachian tube is blocked with mucus.
When it’s blocked, it’s no longer able to equalize pressure in the ear and maintain balance in your body.
These middle-ear disturbances can cause symptoms of dizziness in people with allergies, colds, and sinus infections.
Lightheadedness may also be a symptom of allergies. Lightheadedness and dizziness are two specific symptoms that are usually distinguishable from one another.
When you’re lightheaded, you feel as though you might faint or pass out, instead of the feeling that the room is spinning (or that your head is spinning).
Lying down usually resolves lightheadedness, at least temporarily, while dizziness generally doesn’t go away when you lie down.
Vertigo is a severe form of dizziness that causes you to see the room as though it’s spinning. Someone with vertigo may also feel as though they’re moving when they’re actually sitting or standing still.
In the case of allergy-induced vertigo, the culprit is fluid building up in the middle ear.
It’s important to note that while vertigo can be debilitating or disruptive, it’s often treatable. Your doctor will likely run a variety of tests to determine the cause.
If it’s determined that the vertigo is related to allergic rhinitis, your doctor will provide treatment accordingly or refer you to a specialist (usually an allergist or ear, nose, and throat doctor).
Since vertigo can be related to more serious issues, it’s important to seek treatment as quickly as possible once you’ve experienced this symptom.
The cure for allergy-induced dizziness is usually to treat the cause — the allergy itself.
Avoiding the allergen altogether is the most effective way to treat an allergy. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to completely avoid allergens in the air.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are available to help relieve dizziness and other symptoms of allergies. However, treating the underlying cause is usually a more effective way to rid yourself of dizziness for good.
First, your doctor will try to determine the cause of your allergic-induced dizziness. This is usually done by a traditional allergy test, with a detailed analysis of your particular allergens.
There are many options for battling allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are popular for short-term use and can be very effective in relieving the congestion that may be causing your dizziness.
Antihistamines are also used to treat vertigo. Be aware that many older antihistamines can cause drowsiness. It’s important to not drive or operate machinery when you first take an antihistamine.
You should also avoid taking them with antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, or alcohol. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Aside from antihistamines, other types of medications for treating allergies or the symptoms of allergies include:
- corticosteroid pills
- cromolyn sodium
- nasal steroid sprays
- leukotriene modifiers
Long term, your doctor will likely want to treat the allergy causing your symptoms. This can be done with prescription medication that’s safe for daily use. It can also be done with specially formulated allergy shots.
When you receive an allergy shot, you’re actually being injected with a small amount of the allergen. This helps desensitize your body to the allergen over time.
By gradually increasing your dosage, your body adjusts. Your symptoms will decrease over time.
Your doctor may also monitor you for signs of celiac disease. This is a more serious form of gluten intolerance that requires complete avoidance of gluten in your diet or serious health complications can follow.
Dizziness can be a problem, but when allergies are the root cause, treatment can leave you free of symptoms.
The key is to determine the reason for your dizziness and treat the cause, rather than the symptom itself.