The Connection Between Allergies and Hearing Loss
We’re here to help you. Sneezing and congestion may be the most obvious symptoms of seasonal allergies, but these annual annoyances can also cause lasting damage to your hearing.
If you experience seasonal allergies, you’re no doubt familiar with the itching, sneezing, and congestion that grow with the new flowers each spring. These are the typical symptoms of a seasonal allergic reaction, but there’s one symptom that you may not be aware of: hearing loss.
Less common than other allergy symptoms and often mild, this kind of hearing loss is frequently overshadowed by other debilitating effects like sneezing and itchy eyes. Fortunately, most forms of allergy-related hearing loss are the result of congestion. The eustachian tubes — small vents in the back of the throat that regulate air pressure in the middle ear — can become clogged by mucus or swelling as easily as the sinuses or nasal cavity, producing a feeling of fullness in the ear and causing speech to sound distant or muffled. Once the congestion dissipates, the eustachian tubes usually clear and hearing returns to normal.
On rare occasions, though, the eustachian tubes don’t clear, which can result in a burst eardrum. This happens when fluid gathers in the middle ear. If too much fluid or air builds up too quickly with no drain available, the pressure can cause a rupture. This can result in significant hearing damage, but fortunately, with a bit of vigilance, you can protect your hearing throughout the year.
If you experience any of the following symptoms during allergy season, contact us immediately:
- A sudden change in your hearing abilities
- Voices sounding muffled or muddied
- Feeling like you need to “pop” your ears, or that your ears are “full”
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Nagging pain within the ear, especially if it is prolonged or seems to be getting worse with time
- Fluid discharge from the ear
Though medications are available to reduce the risk of infection and alleviate congestion, and surgical intervention can be prescribed for severe cases, the key to protecting your hearing is detecting potential problems as early as possible.