With pollen counts quickly rising and all sorts of flowers and trees beginning to bloom, many people across the country are struggling with seasonal springtime allergies. While the usual side effects of allergies, including sneezing and breaking out in rashes, can be less than pleasant, audiologists also warn that hearing loss can be a potential effect of allergies.
Audiology Consultants of Southwest Florida is here to help if you begin experiencing any symptoms of allergy-related hearing loss, such as swollen/itchy ears and dizziness or vertigo. These experiences are less than ideal, but they can be manageable when dealt with appropriately.
How Can Seasonal Allergies Result in Hearing Loss?
When something in the vicinity bothers your immune system, it reacts by creating antibodies and releasing histamines. This process creates an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include congestion, a runny nose, rashes, itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, or swelling of various parts of the body. Additionally, symptoms may feel even worse during the spring months because of harsh weather changes and increased moisture in the air.
In some cases, experts link this high level of mucus production caused by spring allergies to potential temporary conductive hearing loss.
If there is extra moisture, fluid, or even earwax in your ear, this may block certain sections of the ear and therefore not allow sounds to properly move in and throughout the ear. To hear a sound to its fullest extent, the ear must be open enough to let the sound reach the small bones in the middle ear.
Types of Potential Hearing Loss Caused by Allergies
Seasonal allergies can affect the hearing capacities of all parts of your ear, including the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear.
Firstly, the outer ear, and specifically the skin on your ear, can react to allergens you encounter. Some people experience mild rashes on the skin and in the ear canal, while others may experience more drastic swelling that prevents them from hearing as well as usual.
In addition to the outside of your ear, the middle part of the ear can also have a strong reaction to allergies that causes hearing loss. Some people experience swelling in the middle ear, which prevents the Eustachian tube from draining as well as usual. Another potential effect of this is an increased buildup of fluids, which can ultimately cause increased bacteria, a potential infection, or even issues with balance and dizziness.
Finally, the inner ear can experience allergy-related hearing loss problems. This is generally the case for people who have Meniere’s disease, a chronic inner-ear disorder.
Additional Issues for People Using Hearing Aids
Allergens floating around in the air do not only affect our bodies; they can also clog the microphone ports of hearing aids. While this reduces the amount of sound that can reach the ear, thankfully, cleaning the microphone and other parts of the hearing aid can bring its capacities back to normal. You can also replace the microphone ports’ covers to bring them back to their original state.
If you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to the hearing aids themselves, be sure to speak with your doctor about this issue before making any decisions on your own. Often, this problem can be resolved by changing the hearing aid’s fit, style, or material, so an expert’s opinion on the situation is sure to help you get through it.
Managing Allergy-Related Hearing Issues
Though conductive hearing loss caused by allergies, or another situation may be frustrating and even a bit frightening, know that this problem is temporary and curable. Usually, once your allergy symptoms go away, so do the linked hearing problems.
While it may be tempting to relieve some of the pressure or satisfy an itch by putting an object such as a Q-tip or a finger in your ear, we always recommend seeing a doctor and following their expert advice instead.
No matter the hearing-related issues you are facing, feel free to contact Audiology Consultants of Southwest Florida for guidance and advice. We offer everything from hearing testing to aural rehabilitation to hearing aid evaluation and maintenance. Contact us today.