Allergies don’t only make your eyes itchy and nose run – they can also hamper your hearing.
When your body is confronted with allergens such as pollen, drugs, some foods, grass or fur, the immune system produces antibodies that release histamine, which can cause allergic reactions. Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona reminds you that these reactions can affect the outer, middle and inner ear.
The outer ear may itch or become red, while a fluid build-up in the middle ear can create earaches, and the inner ear reactions may include dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or even deafness, particularly for individuals with Meniere’s disease.
The Eustachian tube is part of the middle ear that releases pressure, but allergies can hurt its ability to drain properly by causing swelling or mucus buildup. This can cause sounds to be dampened or a feeling of fullness in your ears, a condition known as conductive hearing loss. Because the tube also has a part in maintaining balance, an allergic reaction can cause the individual to feel dizzy.
Further, children are more susceptible to a middle ear infection known as otitis media, caused when fluid in the ear becomes infected. When this occurs, your audiologist may suggest getting an allergy test.
Autoimmune inner ear disease
The immune system’s reaction to an allergen can be an allergic reaction to itself – when the immune system attacks the inner ear, it’s known as autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED). Although the cause of AIED is unknown, about a third of cases are in individuals who also display Meniere’s disease symptoms.
Hearing aids and allergies
Because allergens can clog up your hearing aids, it’s important to clean them regularly or replace the microphone port covers as needed. If you feel like you’re having an allergic reaction to your hearing aid, it could be due to moisture, a poor fit, or wax accumulation. Talk to your audiologist if you notice this.
Most allergy sufferers can use over-the-counter medicines including decongestants and antihistamines to help with symptoms in the ears, nose or eyes. Fortunately, the hearing problems and discomfort are typically temporary and subside when the allergy season is over.