Allergies and Ear Infections

Understanding the Connection

“There are a variety of factors that lead to ear infections and one of them is allergies.”

Daniel Todd, MD, Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat

Ear infections are painful and often very frustrating. Because they happen so frequently, especially in infants, and there is no magic medicine to prevent them from occurring, most adult sufferers and parents find themselves frequenting the health clinics and sometimes undergoing surgical measures. But first, it’s important to understand just why the ear is such a catalyst for painful and frequent infections and how new understandings of allergies can play a part in prevention.

Daniel Todd, MD, is an ENT (ear, nose and throat) allergist for Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat in Sioux Falls. He has two decades of experience working with allergies and ear infections and offers some sound expertise when it comes to allergies and ear infections.  “Ear infections are especially prevalent in infants and children between the ages or 6 months and 4 years of age,” adds Dr. Todd. “It’s usually due to a poorly functioning Eustachian tube, which ventilates the middle ear into the nose.” So when it becomes clogged or blocked, the area transforms itself into the perfect breeding ground for germs, which can cause painful infections.  “Viruses, irritants like second-hand smoke and allergies often contribute to this Eustachian tube dysfunction.”

Thanks to new findings and tests, physicians like Dr. Todd are able to offer some relief through allergy testing. “In very young children, allergies and sensitivities are most likely due to foods and airborne inhalants such as pet dander, dust mites and pollens.”


To approach allergy testing, consult with your physician to see which route is best for you or your child.  Skin testing and blood testing are both available at Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat. “It’s amazing how many children have fewer ear infections by eliminating a food,” adds Dr. Todd. The biggest culprit is basic cow milk.  Soy milk and almond milk are good alternatives but he adds that even taking those precautions can still cause allergies. Other food-related allergies are more difficult to track down. “Our complex and processed diets are a major factor,” he adds. “I can’t tell you the number of children and adults whose ear infections have improved by eliminating dairy and gluten from their diets.” For infants, he suggests switching to hypoallergenic formula.

But the good news is that time is on your side and ear infections often don’t cause long-term damage. Dr. Todd says that most food allergies and sensitivities tend to get better with age and even disappear as we get older. So if you are faced with chronic ear infections, be sure to take allergies into consideration before rushing for antibiotics.

By Jennifer Dumke: Sioux Falls Woman Magazine