It’s allergy season. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are common this time of year. Hearing healthcare professionals say that allergies may also be a cause of hearing loss. Some symptoms include fullness in the ear, itching, vertigo, or swelling.
Allergies and Hearing loss
Antibodies, which release histamine, are formed. When histamine is released, it causes an allergic reaction. The result of this allergic reaction is itching, sneezing, and congestion. This raises the amount of mucus that a person produces, which may cause hearing loss.
What is conductive hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss develops when fluid or earwax block sound waves from streaming through the ear, towards the small bones in the middle of the ear. There is a remedy for conductive hearing loss, but you will most likely have temporary difficulty hearing. Conductive hearing loss can be taken care of with standard or bone-conduction hearing aids - implantable devices that are anchored to your bone - or middle ear implants. Assistive listening instruments, such as amplified telephones or headphones used with your television, could be a solution to your hearing loss.
It is not recommended that you attempt to scratch an irritation by placing anything in your inner ear canal, like a cotton swab. As an alternative, gently clean your ear with a warm washcloth that has been wrung-out, and completely dry it. If this does not help, please see your doctor. You healthcare provider will be able to sterilize the ear and examine it to determine the cause of the itching.
What are three types of hearing loss caused by allergies?
Each of the three main sections of your ear can be affected by allergies.
The outer ear hearing loss: Skin reactions caused by allergies, may cause itching and/or swelling for both the outer ear and ear canal. Some allergies that affect your skin may come from earrings, perfumes, laundry detergent, or household pets.
The middle ear hearing loss: Inflammation may obstruct the opening to the middle of your ear, causing the Eustachian tube not to properly siphon out fluids. These fluids, along with pressure, can build up. This can give your ears the feeling of being full in the ear that is affected, and unfortunately arranges an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and eventually an infection. The buildup of fluid may cause balance issues, like vertigo, or the sensation of dizziness.
Inner ear hearing loss: Allergies can also be partially responsible for Meniere’s disease. This is an inner ear disease that generally only affects one ear. The result of this ailment can cause ear pressure or pain, serious instances of vertigo, loss of hearing, or tinnitus. It is a chronic illness with no cure, but there are remedies that can decrease the effect on your daily life and alleviate symptoms. Sudden dizziness after experiencing tinnitus or muffled hearing are common with Meniere’s disease. Some may have one occasional attack, while others may experience attacks that last several days.
Allergies and Hearing Aids
Not only do allergens cause irritation, but they may also block up the microphone ports in your hearing aids. This will alter the way your hearing aids operate. The covers on your microphone port can be replaced, but it is advised to regularly clean your hearing aids, especially during allergy season.
Some wearers have had allergic reactions when wearing their hearing aids. If this happens, speak to your hearing healthcare professional. The allergic reaction could be the result of a poorly fit hearing aid, moisture in the ear, dry skin, an accumulation of earwax, or a sensitivity to the material that makes up the earmold. Most hearing aid manufacturers have alternative options for those with sensitivity in the ears, such as hypoallergenic shell materials or various coatings that can provide relief.
Typically, allergies and the challenges of hearing are usually temporary. Your normal hearing abilities come back once your symptoms decline or the infection goes away. If your hearing loss continues well past your allergy season, please see your hearing health care provider.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing hearing loss and need hearing aids, please contact one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation.