Allergy associated vertigo
Allergy associated vertigo or allergy associated dizziness is an allergic reaction against the vestibular system. Inhalant and food allergies commonly cause lightheadedness and dizziness. General allergic reactions and side effects of medication used in treating allergies can also cause non-specific dizziness.
Allergies effects up to 30% of the population and is on the increase. In the inner ear the endolymphatic sac is considered the target organ for the allergic reaction. Allergy has been proposed as the cause of some patients with Menière’s disease. Patients with Menière’s disease seem to suffer a lot with allergies.
Allergies also cause chronic otitis media with effusion (glue ear) in children. Although hearing loss is most often the presenting problem, balance problems can occur in up to 50% of children. This fact is often ignored or missed by parents and medical personnel.
Allergic disease affects Eustachian tube function, which can cause dizziness. In scuba divers eustachian tube dysfunction may lead to alternobaric vertigo and perilymph fistula (PLF)
A link between allergy and migraine, a common cause of dizziness, is strongly supported in the literature.
Blood tests and skin prick tests can help to confirm the presence of allergic disease in a patient. Unfortunately there is currently no diagnostic test proving that allergy is responsible for vertigo and dizziness. It is in essence an exclusion diagnosis made after a comprehensive history and examination. It should be considered in patients with involvement of both ears, a history of seasonal or weather related symptoms, in those with other allergic symptoms and in those with a history of eczema, asthma and hay fever. It can also be considered and in patients not responding to usual dizziness medication.
Treatment includes avoidance, medication and desensitization. Desensitization can modify the allergic response and cure a patient from certain allergies. For more information regarding desensitization an allergologist should be consulted.