It’s springtime! The sun is shining, birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and allergies are flaring up. Hearing complications can be one of the many effects of those allergies. It’s often one of the most overlooked and least discussed side effects of the season. Are allergies making your hearing loss worse?
Allergies and Hearing Loss, A Growing Problem
While hearing loss related to allergies is not as well-known as other symptoms, it isn’t rare. Research suggests that two-thirds of those suffering from nasal allergies experience auditory symptoms. Including hearing loss ranging from moderate to severe.
One of the most common symptoms is eustachian tube dysfunction. The eustachian tube is a narrow tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. It opens when yawning or swallowing to regulate the pressure on the middle ear, and it also serves to drain the mucus produced by the lining of the ear.
Eustachian tube dysfunction can occur when the lining of the nose becomes irritated and inflamed.
Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged?
Anything that limits the way in which the eustachian tube works can cause muffled hearing — sometimes referred to as airplane ear. When mild, muffled hearing leads to hearing loss associated with a “stuffy” feeling in your ears and it can be painful.
Sometimes, you can get rid of the stuffy feeling by yawning or chewing gum, and self-inflating the ear can sometimes relieve eustachian tube problems. (Self-inflation is when you forcibly blow air through the eustachian tube into the middle ear by pinching the nose closed and blowing, subsequently “popping the ear.”) Other times, the stuffy feeling may go away while the muffled hearing persists.
If blockage of the eustachian tube continues, it can lead to the build-up of fluid in the middle ear space, furthering hearing loss. A condition known as otitis media. Which can be serious if bacteria contaminate the fluid in the ear. With prolonged eustachian tube dysfunction, it is best to consult with a physician.
What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office
Common treatments for eustachian tube dysfunction include non-prescription pain relievers, decongestants, and antihistamines. Antihistamines help treat conditions caused by too much histamine, which is a chemical created by your body in response to an attack on the body’s immune system.
When your body releases histamine, one of the side effects is inflammation. Like the inflammation impacting eustachian tubes.
Decongestants can be part of the initial treatment or used in combination with an antihistamine. Decongestants are used to shrink swollen blood vessels or tissue. Especially when antihistamines won’t work.
Before taking either a decongestant or an antihistamine, discuss any health conditions with your doctor, including existing hearing loss. Depending on the ingredients, decongestants can negatively impact those with high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, enlarged prostate, or problems with the thyroid. Antihistamines, meanwhile, can cause drowsiness, dry eyes or blurred vision, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and headaches.
If more common treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may opt for surgical treatments. Such as a myringotomy, which involves an incision in the eardrum where fluid is suctioned out. Or the insertion of temporary pressure equalization tubes.
Are Allergies Affecting Your Hearing Loss?
While everyone hopes that hearing loss related to allergies does not reach a point that it requires a surgical remedy, complications can arise if left unchecked.
While seasons — and seasonal allergies — come and go, CaptionCall is always here to help. If you or someone you love has hearing loss that necessitates the need for captioning, consider CaptionCall. Life is calling.