Why your allergies might be causing vertigo

Austin

This year’s strong allergy season continues for at least the next several weeks, and for some sufferers the amount of pollen in the air is causing vertigo.

The temporary dizzy spells aren’t common results of allergies, Dr. Thomas Leath said, but they can happen when high levels of pollen cause inflammation in parts of the inner ear that regulate balance.

Leath, an allergist with Allergy and Asthma Associates in Austin, said he gets patients who complain of vertigo when the allergy season is particularly bad, and it can be serious.

“It can lead to falls. If it happened while you were driving, it can be very dangerous,” he said.

Most of what Leath sees are the common symptoms, like the ones Jake Miles deals with. “Sometimes it puts me out with something that feels like the flu for weeks at a time,” Miles said.

A singer in a local band, his allergies make it hard to hit the notes he wants to. Even though he was raised in Austin, he told KXAN, he’d consider moving to get away from his symptoms. It’s a sentiment others share during allergy season.

“It’s miserable,” a woman told KXAN while walking on the trails at Zilker Park. 

“This year, it’s been hitting me kind of hard,” Michele Bibby said, adding she’s willing to deal with her allergies to enjoy Austin’s natural spaces. “It’s too beautiful not to come out here.”

“There’s still a lot of pollen out there,” Leath said. In the severe, vertigo-inducing cases, he recommends preventative measures, like allergy shots and medications. But sometimes even that’s not enough, and pollen can still cause inflammation in important parts of your inner ear.

If it gets to that point, treatment can include steroid shots or pills, he said. 

It’s also important to note there are other causes of vertigo that can be much more serious, Leath said. If symptoms like dizziness or swaying develop, it’s a good idea to see a doctor and not just write it off as allergies acting up.

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