It’s allergy season, so get out your tissues! A runny nose and itchy, watery eyes are the trademark signs of an allergic reaction, but did you know that there is a connection between allergies and hearing loss? In fact, your allergies can cause you to have a diminished sense of hearing. When your body responds to allergens, it produces antibodies that release histamine, and it’s the histamine that produces an allergic response. The result is nasal congestion, swelling, itching, and sneezing. All which increase mucus production that can cause conductive hearing loss, a condition that occurs when there is a blockage preventing sound waves from traveling through the ear and into the middle ear. While conductive hearing loss is a treatable condition, it can temporarily affect your hearing and make it difficult to hear. All three sections of your ear can be negatively affected by allergies, even your hearing aid!
Inner Ear: Allergies may diminish your hearing if you have an inner ear disorder such as Meniere’s disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, acoustic neuroma, or vestibular neuronitis.
Middle Ear: If your allergies cause any swelling that blocks the opening to the middle ear, your Eustachian tube may not drain properly. Without proper drainage, fluid and pressure can build up and give you the sensation of fullness in the ear.
Outer Ear: Skin eruptions and outbreaks from allergies can cause swelling and itching of the ear canal and outer ear, making it difficult to hear.
Hearing Aid: During allergy season, it is imperative that you clean your hearing aid regularly. Small pollen grains and other allergens can clog the microphone ports on your hearing aids. When this happens, it may affect the way your hearing aids function and affect your hearing.
Luckily, the diminishment or loss of hearing you may experience during allergy season is usually a temporary condition. When your symptoms subside, your normal hearing should return. If your hearing does not improve, or if you are experiencing extreme discomfort or pain, make an appointment with your local hearing health professional.