Dizziness as a Symptom of Food Allergies

Woman feeling dizzy sitting on a chair
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It's possible for food allergies and for other types of allergies to make you feel dizzy. Dizziness occurs because the allergies produce mucus which then affects your inner ear, which is responsible for balance. When the mucus partially or fully blocks your inner ear, it does more than affect your hearing—it also can make you dizzy or even cause vertigo (a severe form of dizziness).

Dizziness can be very debilitating. Often, the only way to cope is to stay home and in bed. Some people find it lasts for many days in a row, which has a significant impact on their lives.

There are many potential causes for dizziness. If you experience dizziness from your food allergies, it should clear up once the allergies causing it are properly diagnosed and treated. Here's some information on why allergies can provoke dizziness, and how you can cope with the problem.

Histamine Triggers Congestion

When you have an allergy, your body fights back by releasing histamine, a compound designed to help your immune system identify and target attackers. Histamine release can cause symptoms ranging from sinus congestion and itchy throat to coughing and sneezing, all of which are common allergy symptoms.

The Eustachian tube, which is the tunnel that connects the middle ear to the back of your throat, can become clogged with mucus as a result of your allergic symptoms. Your Eustachian tubes (you have one for each ear) play an important role in regulating balance and also equalize the pressure in your middle ear with ambient air pressure.

When your Eustachian tubes are blocked with mucus, you'll find that it's difficult to hear. Additionally, when these tubes are clogged with mucus, it's no longer is able to equalize pressure in the ear and maintain balance in your body. This can then lead to dizziness in those with allergies, cold or since infections. 

Dizziness vs. Lightheadedness

Allergies may also make you feel lightheaded, which isn't the same as feeling dizzy. When you feel lightheaded, you may feel as if the room is spinning, but the sensation resolves when you lie down. Lightheadedness also may be relieved by drinking fluids if you're dehydrated, or by eating something with sugar if the cause of your lightheadedness is that you have low blood sugar.

When you experience dizziness, it usually doesn't get better when you lie down, take a drink, or eat something. Dizziness typically lasts longer than lightheadedness and feels more intense.

Vertigo, a form of dizziness, is an inner ear problem that makes you feel as if you're spinning or swaying when you're not. Food allergies can be linked to both lightheadedness and dizziness. In addition, celiac disease has been linked to vertigo, which is dizziness that stems from dysfunction in your inner ear.

Dizziness From a Food Allergy

For those who are experiencing dizziness due to a food allergy, the dizziness may start as early as right after eating the offending foods or may show up hours and hours later. If you feel dizzy due to a food intolerance or celiac disease, the dizziness may not begin for hours or even days after you've eaten that particular food, making it hard to identify the true cause of your symptoms. In this case, you may require extensive testing and further evaluation to determine which foods are responsible for the dizziness.

In order to stop allergy-induced dizziness, you'll need to avoid the allergen that's causing your symptoms. If the dizziness is caused by airborne allergens, it is often suggested to use prescription and over the counter medications to help relieve the symptoms and dizziness. When you consume the allergen in food, then you'll need to avoid that food to stop the dizziness.

A Word From Verywell

There are many potential causes of dizziness. To determine whether your symptoms are caused by food allergies or by something else, you should see your doctor for testing. If your doctor ultimately tests you for food allergies through blood tests, skin tests, or elimination diets, and determines allergies are the cause of your dizziness, then you can make the necessary dietary changes.

Once the true cause of the dizziness is determined, then appropriate treatment can be found. When your dizziness is connected to a food allergy, following a new allergen-free diet will help the dizziness to resolve itself, and your life can continue as normal.

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Article Sources

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  1. University of Michigan Health, Michigan Medicine, "Blocked Eustachian Tubes"

  2. Banks C et al. Is Allergy Related to Meniere's Disease?Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2012 Jun;12(3):255-60. DOI: 10.1007/s11882-012-0258-3