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Can Allergies Make You Dizzy?

Allergies can make you dizzy, a condition called sinus dizziness. Learn how to treat dizziness caused by allergies and ear inflammation and identify signs of anaphylaxis. If you have allergies, you may wonder if they can make you dizzy. The answer is yes, for a number of reasons. Dizziness can happen along with more classic symptoms like sneezing or congestion. It can also be a side effect of certain allergy

  • Posted on 23rd Apr, 2022 13:40 PM
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If you have allergies, you may wonder if they can make you dizzy. The answer is yes, for a number of reasons. Dizziness can happen along with more classic symptoms like sneezing or congestion. It can also be a side effect of certain allergy medications.

Dizziness sometimes is part of a cluster of symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to food, insect stings, and other allergens. An anaphylactic reaction can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

This article looks at dizziness as a symptom of allergies. It also discusses treatments for allergies and this related symptom, as well as dizziness as a symptom of anaphylaxis.

What Causes Sinus Dizziness

Dizziness can be a symptom of nasal allergies. You get nasal allergies when your immune system mistakes certain substances called allergens for threats. When you encounter an allergen, your body releases histamines. Histamines help your body get rid of harmful substances, but they are an overreaction to an allergen. They cause symptoms like:

  • Sneezing
  • Swelling of membranes (edema)
  • Increased mucus secretion
  • Wheezing

Airborne Allergies and Dizziness

Airborne allergies can cause a number of ear and sinus symptoms, including:

  • Sinus congestion
  • Inflammation of the lining of the eustachian tube, also called the auditory tube

The auditory tube normally equalizes the pressure in the middle ear. When it's blocked by inflammation, pressure builds up. This is what makes your ears feel plugged. Sometimes, this can result in dizziness or balance problems.

Your allergy medication may cause dizziness as a side effect, too. It can also make you feel lightheaded. Most oral antihistamines can cause dizziness.

Dizziness is sometimes confused with vertigo or lightheadedness. Dizziness and vertigo are similar, but they are distinct symptoms. Dizziness is when you feel off-balance, while vertigo is the feeling that you or your surroundings are in motion. You can experience dizziness and vertigo at the same time.

These sensations are distinct from lightheadedness, which is a feeling like you might faint.

Dizziness and Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It most often occurs with allergies to food, medication, latex, and insect stings. The symptoms come on within 20 to 30 minutes of ingestion or exposure.

Dizziness can occur during anaphylaxis. This symptom is often caused by a drop in blood pressure. It is not usually a primary symptom. Classic signs of anaphylaxis include:

  • Angioedema, swelling under the skin
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, or chest tightness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Urticaria, commonly called hives
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

In severe cases, cardiac arrest or death may occur.

Take No Chances

Seek immediate medical attention for any symptoms of anaphylaxis, including dizziness. This is important even if you don't know that you've eaten or been exposed to an allergen. Call 911 and use an epinephrine autoinjector (such as anEpiPen) if you have one.

Treatment for Allergies and Dizziness

If you feel dizzy, the first thing you should do is sit or lie down somewhere safe. If you are taking allergy medication and are due for a dose, taking it now may help.

If you are not taking allergy medication or managing your allergies in other ways, you may find long-term relief from some of these common allergy treatments. See an allergist for help deciding which one is right for you.

Allergy Medication

Allergy medications are available by prescription and over the counter (OTC). Options include:

If you are at risk of an anaphylactic reaction you may be prescribed an epinephrine injector (EpiPen). Epinephrine is a medication that can halt an anaphylactic reaction. Be sure to carry this with you at all times.

Recap

Allergy medication can help treat all your allergy symptoms, including dizziness. These medicines are available in oral form or as a nasal spray.

Immunotherapy

If other therapies aren't working for you, your allergist may want to do tests to find out exactly what you're allergic to. Allergies to airborne substances like pollen and pet dander can be treated with allergy shots.

Allergy shots contain small amounts of the substance you're sensitive to. This helps desensitize your body to the allergen.

Allergy shots don't work for everyone, and there are risks. For example, it is possible to have an anaphylactic reaction to the shots, though this is rare. 

Diet

Many recent studies have found an association between diet and nasal allergies. High-fat and low-carbohydrate diets, for example, have been linked to nasal allergies in children.

Studies have also found a relationship between what you eat during pregnancy and your child's chances of developing allergic diseases. In particular, diets high in vegetables and fish were associated with a lower risk, while diets high in vegetable oils and fast food are associated with higher risk.

Alternative Therapies

You may also want to try alternative remedies for your allergies. Some people find acupuncture helpful. This is a remedy from Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles into select points on the body. 

Some studies have suggested that herbal supplements such as butterbur can be helpful for people with allergies. Keep in mind, though, that unpurified butterbur may harm your liver. Always ask your healthcare provider before you start taking supplements of any kind.

Some proven ways to reduce your allergy symptoms include keeping your windows closed, washing your bedding frequently, and showering after you've spent time outdoors. Using a humidifier can also help reduce allergy symptoms.

Recap

Immunotherapy can help some people with allergies. You may also be able to manage your allergies by watching what you eat, taking certain supplements, and avoiding allergens as much as possible.

Summary

Allergies can sometimes cause dizziness. This symptom usually happens when the auditory tube in your ear becomes swollen and blocked. Dizziness can also be a side effect of allergy medications. In some cases, it can be a symptom of anaphylaxis.

You can treat allergy-related dizziness and your other symptoms with prescription or OTC medication or immunotherapy. What you eat can also make a difference. It is also important to avoid allergens as much as possible.

If your dizziness occurs with symptoms of anaphylaxis, call 911 and use an EpiPen if you have one. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency. 

A Word From Verywell

It can be scary to feel dizzy or off-balance, but it shouldn't be a cause for panic. If you also have other symptoms of an allergic reaction, the dizziness is probably related.

Allergy medication can also cause dizziness. If it becomes frequent or severe, see your doctor. There may be another cause for your dizziness, such as migraine or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does sinus dizziness last?

    You may have dizzy spells lasting for just a few seconds or up to a few days. In most cases, dizziness caused by allergies or other sinus problems will go away when your other symptoms do. If OTC allergy medication doesn't provide relief, ask an allergist about alternatives.

  • Is medication the only treatment for allergies and dizziness?

    Besides allergy medication, immunotherapy (allergy shots) can be helpful for some people. Certain herbal supplements may also provide relief.

    In many cases, though, the best way to manage allergies and related dizziness is to avoid the thing you are allergic to. Keep your windows closed during allergy season and make sure to wash your clothes and bedding often.

  • Does allergy inflammation affect blood sugar levels?

    Allergies don't affect blood sugar. However, allergy treatments often do. Decongestants, for example, can raise your blood sugar. Antihistamines don't directly affect your blood sugar, but they can make you drowsy. Drowsiness is associated with high or low blood sugar simply because when you are tired you are not as good at managing your blood sugar levels.

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