You know to expect itchy eyes, congestion, runny nose, sneezing and headache during allergy season. If you feel as if your hearing is affected as well, you’re not imagining it – allergies can actually affect your ability to hear. We review how this happens below.
Why Do We Experience Allergies?
Your immune system’s job is to protect your body from diseases, viruses and bacteria. However, for those with allergies, the immune system mistakes harmless substances like pollen at Louise Hays Park, pet dander, dust mites, insect stings, mold and certain foods for dangerous intruders. When your body is exposed to one of these allergens and your immune system overreacts, it is known as an allergic reaction.
When fighting off the “intruder,” your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which tells your cells to release histamine. Histamine triggers mucus production and inflammation, causing your allergy symptoms.
How Do Allergies Affect Hearing?
Allergic reactions can cause a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss, which is often reversible, is caused by a physical blockage that prevents soundwaves from traveling through the ears. This can occur at the outer, middle or inner ear.
An allergic skin reaction that causes swelling in the outer ear or ear canal can prevent sounds from passing through. Common triggers for this type of inflammation include laundry detergent, fragrance, earrings and pet dander.
The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat. Their job is to allow fluid to drain from the middle ear and air pressure to equalize between the middle ear and the environment. If inflammation causes the openings of the Eustachian tubes to become blocked, you could experience hearing loss, a feeling of fullness in the ear, an ear infection and balance issues.
If you have the inner ear disorder Meniere’s disease, your symptoms of hearing loss, balance problems, a feeling of fullness in the ear and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) could be triggered by allergies.
To learn more about hearing loss or to schedule an appointment, call Hill Country Audiology today.