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The Ear Infection & Food Allergy Connection

Of course there are the typical allergic reactions to food, according to FAAN: a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and even death. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to two hours after the person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic.

And there are the less common, or at least lesser known reactions, such as ear infections. Upon doing some research I found that food allergies can cause middle ear infections. My daughter had a very persistent ear infection that didn’t react well to antibiotics. She also has a lot of ear wax, way more than what I’d consider to be normal – and it seems to really build up inside her ear, just beyond where I can reach with a cotton swab. The wax is a very dark amber color, which my doctor assured me is normal.  After corresponding with Breanna from Allergic Adventures, it seems her son would have a lot of wax build-up when he’d react to a food allergy. It seems this is a common problem for children, and even adults, with food allergies – excessive ear wax. Who knew? I sure didn’t. Could it mean my daughter has food allergies, or possibly an intolerance, that I wasn’t aware of? She has small bumps that started on her lower leg and now have traveled to her upper leg and her arms. It’s possible it’s a very mild form of eczema, which could be triggered by food allergies too.

I also honestly had no idea that food allergies could cause ear infections. What is the connection you ask? Well, food allergies cause nasal congestion and also congestion in the eustachian tubes that connect the nose and ear. This allows fluid to collect in the middle ear which can lead to infections. Most pediatricians treat ear infections with antibiotics or drainage tubes, which doesn’t get to the cause of the problem. So, if your child has reoccurring ear infections and or excessive ear wax, it’s possible food allergies could be to blame.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. It all makes so much more sense to me now knowing that ear infections are related to food allergies! My eldest son, with multiple food allergies, had back to back ear infections up until he was 18 months old when he had tubes put in. We struggled for years with eczema and kept him away from all his food allergy triggers. He still has all his food allergies, has seemingly ‘outgrown’ the eczema and has been ear infection clear since having the tubes put in. I have seasonal allergies which lead me to back to back sinus infections throughout the winter…using my nasal spray has eleviated the problem. I also eat local honey as I had heard it can help with seasonal allergies. Susan H. @ the food allergy chronicles


    November 7, 2011
    • Everyone seems to have such luck with the nasal spray – we do it occasionally when our kids are sick, but we just haven’t been diligent with it. Maybe that’s something we need to try harder with this winter with cold season. I’ve thought about the honey too – I have seasonal allergies as well. What type of local honey do you like best? I would love to do a honey taste test. We’re just getting into the good raw stuff now. Is there a type that is best for allergies?


      November 7, 2011
  2. Yes! My oldest son has a tremendous amount of earwax… he’s an earwax FACTORY! Of my three boys, all of whom have multiple food allergies, he is the most allergic. Never realized there was a connection though! Amazing what food can do to your body…

    Lisa @ Allergy Free Vintage Cookery


    November 7, 2011
    • I know! I think food allergies, intolerances, and sensitives are all fueling a lot more health issues than any of us are really aware.


      November 7, 2011

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