Allergy season is usually in full swing around this time of year, and that means lots of watery eyes and runny noses. Most people are well aware of the typical signs of allergies. What often gets missed is the way in which allergies, by way of the sinuses, can affect the ears. Actually, allergies could be an underlying cause of hearing difficulties.
How Allergies Relate to Hearing Problems
What happens when a person has allergies is that their immune system senses certain substances as an “enemy.” As a result, exposure to an allergen such as pollen causes the body to produce antibodies and histamine. It is histamine that stimulates the allergy responses we have come to know so well. As histamine is produced, mucus production may increase to such a degree that some of this substance sits in or near the middle ear. Where there is mucus, the tiny bones in this part of the ear cannot receive vibrations from sound waves that travel through the ear canal. No vibration means muffled hearing at best. For people who wear hearing aids, the effects of mucus in the middle ear can be even more pronounced.
Mucus is only one culprit for ear problems related to allergies. Sometimes, allergies can cause swelling that blocks the opening of the middle ear. When this opening is obstructed, the Eustachian tube in that ear, or in both ears, cannot properly drain. Fluid retention in the Eustachian tube is a common cause of balance problems, vertigo, and bacterial infection in the ear.
How to Protect the Ears from Allergies
Experiencing a decrease in normal hearing can be alarming. Fortunately, hearing loss that occurs secondary to allergies should be a temporary frustration. Symptoms that affect the ears increase and decrease based on the body’s allergic response. In that way, symptoms may be managed with either over-the-counter allergy medication or with medical intervention such as immunotherapy.
Allergy Testing and Treatment in St. Louis
We enjoy providing personal care to our patients because it makes them feel better and helps them enjoy the best possible quality of life. To learn more about allergy testing and treatments, call 314.473.5433.