Spring has arrived and summer is right around the corner. Many of us are looking forward to the warmer weather. The flowers are in bloom, the birds are singing, the days are longer; however, for many people this time of year also brings seasonal allergies. Sneezing, sniffling, and watery eyes are common symptoms of allergies. Similarly, our ears and our hearing can also be affected.
Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, are due to an increase in pollen levels. Our bodies treat pollen as a threat and in response we release histamine. Histamine can cause our Eustachian tube, which connects the ears and nose to the throat, to become inflamed. The inflammation can cause swelling which causes a pressure imbalance. This imbalance can give you a feeling of fullness in your ears, popping sounds, itchy ears and/or reduced hearing. Sounds may appear muffled or hard to distinguish. Clearing or ‘popping’ your ears will only provide temporary relief.
With a partially (of fully) blocked Eustachian tube, mucous can build-up. When this happens, a further decrease in hearing can occur. It will also increase the
blocked and/or full feeling in the ears. In some cases, bacteria can enter the mucous or fluid which can lead to infection.
Eustachian tube dysfunction brought on by allergies can also cause dizziness and balance issues. Often the sinuses feel occluded which can disrupt balance. Tinnitus, which is described as ringing or buzzing in the ears, can become louder when suffering from seasonal allergies and/or a blocked Eustachian tube. This small tube plays a large role in the normal functioning of the ear.
Treating seasonal allergies and how your body responds to allergens, can reduce the impact on your ears and subsequently your hearing. Using nasal sprays, anti-histamine/decongestant medication as well as other treatments to reduce the congestion and inflammation of the Eustachian tube will help. It is important to discuss with your doctor or medical professional which treatment options are appropriate for you. If you are experiencing seasonal allergies and notice a change in hearing or other ear issues, contact an Audiologist for a hearing test.
Submitted by: Curt Culford, M.Cl.Sc. Aud, Reg. CASLPO Audiologist and Owner, Culford Family Hearing
102-10 Keith Ave., Collingwood | (705) 293-HEAR
www.culfordfamilyhearing.ca | facebook.com/culfordfamilyhearing