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HEENT and Allergies

HEENT is the medical abbreviation for head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat—all things commonly affected by allergies. Sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose are very common—most people will experience these symptoms at some point in their life. You can have these types of symptoms at any age, but it may not be easy to know why. Is it a common cold, an irritant (like cigarette smoke or perfume) or is it an allergy? 

The common cold and allergies share many of the same symptoms affecting the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat, including:

Common cold or allergy


  • Sinus pressure or pain
  • Headaches
  • Breathing through the mouth


  • Swollen or puffy eyes
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Red eyes


  • Ear pressure and pain
  • Stuffy or clogged ears


  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose


  • Itchy throat
  • Sore throat
  • Post nasal drip

HEENT Allergy Symptoms or Common Cold?

There can be many similarities between allergy and cold symptoms, making it difficult to tell the difference between the two. They are both common conditions that affect the HEENT. Here are a few key differences between a cold and an allergy:

  • Allergies often trigger itchy and watery eyes, not a cold.
  • Fever is not associated with allergies, but can accompany a cold.
  • Allergy symptoms typically last a few weeks, while cold symptoms last seven to 10 days.1

Common causes of Head, eyes, ears, nose & throat (HEENT) Allergy symptoms

A common cold and allergy both cause your immune system to react in a similar way. However, a reaction to a cold is because of a virus and an allergic reaction is your body’s immune system reacting to a substance (allergen) that it sees as a threat. Some common allergens that could cause your head, eyes, ears, nose & throat symptoms include:

Your head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat are all interconnected

A virus or allergy that is affecting one of them may also impact the others, as they are all part of your upper respiratory system.
Learn more about what’s related to your head, eyes, ears, nose & throat symptoms: 


Learn more >

Ear infection

Ear Infections
Learn more >

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral Allergy Syndrome
Learn more >


Can allergies cause a sore throat?

Yes. Sore throats could potentially be caused by food allergies, although they could also be caused by an infection. Additionally, post nasal drip, often caused by hay fever, can cause inflammation of the throat. Consult your healthcare provider to help determine a proper treatment plan.2


Can allergies affect ears?

Yes. While most people know the standard stuffy nose and itchy eyes as allergy symptoms, the ears can also be affected by allergens.3


Why is the inside of my ear swollen?

When allergies are the cause of symptoms felt in the ears, it can feel like your ears are stuffy or clogged, or like pressure and/or pain. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and if allergies could be behind them.


Can allergies affect your eyes?

Yes. Allergies can cause eyes to be red, itchy, or watery. The most common triggers of allergy symptoms affecting the eyes are found outdoors, such as grass, trees, or weeds.4


Why is my nose itchy?

An itchy nose is a common symptom of allergies. Typical allergens that could cause an itchy nose include animal dander, dust mites, pollens, mold, and foods.


Can allergies cause red eyes?

Red eyes are a common symptom of allergies, along with swollen or puffy eyes, and itchy or watery eyes.


Is the ear connected to the nose?

The head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat are all interconnected. Allergy symptoms can affect both the ear and nose, and often times the symptoms felt in those areas are connected.


Can an allergy cause headaches?

Yes. Common allergy symptoms affecting the head include headaches, sinus pressure or pain, and breathing through the mouth. 

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315756.php. Accessed July, 2019.
  2. https://aacos.com/2012/11/27/can-allergiescause-a-sore-throat/. Accessed July, 2019.
  3. https://www.allergyasc.com/blog/2008/10/16/allergies-and-the-ear/. Accessed July, 2019.
  4. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/eye-allergy. Accessed July, 2019.