It is common for individuals to get allergies at some point in time. There are even specific times in a year known as allergy season marked by changing climate where you are constantly exposed to heightened allergens. The eyes would become itchy, the nose would start running and you would be sneezing uncontrollably. But are you aware that sometimes these allergies could also result in diminished hearing?
While you have allergies, your immune system responds to allergens by producing antibiotics that release histamines. The release of histamines produces an allergic response. This is what results in sneezing, itching and congestion. It also leads to excessive mucus production which can block the eustachian tube resulting in temporary conductive hearing loss.
There are mainly three types of allergy-related hearing issues. They are being discussed below:
Effect of allergies on the outer ear
Allergic reactions can cause itching and swelling of both the outer ear and the ear canal. Some can be allergic to their detergent, earrings or even perfumes. Others may be allergic to their household pets. Other reasons for ear itching include food or seasonal allergies, severe dandruff, psoriasis or eczema, contact dermatitis, earwax blockage or even irritation from hearing aids. These swelling will affect the conduction of sound to the middle and inner ear.
Effect of allergies on middle ear
If the mucus produced is capable of blocking the Eustachian tube, it will not be able to drain properly. This can cause fluid and pressure to build up in the middle ear giving a feeling of fullness in the affected ear and providing a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow up. This would in turn cause subsequent middle ear infections. The fluid build-up can also result in a feeling of light-headedness and dizziness.
Effect of allergies on the inner ear
Allergies can also contribute to people who develop diseases such as Meniere’s.
In addition to causing discomfort for your ears, allergens can also clog the microphone ports of the hearing aid, affecting its functioning. In such cases, microphone ports must be replaced immediately. Regular cleaning of hearing aids is also advised especially during the allergy season.
In case the allergic reaction is because of the hearing aids, talk to the Audiologist. The allergy may be because of poor fit, moisture in the ear, wax accumulation, dry skin or allergy to the ear mould or dome material. Many manufacturers are now coming up with hypoallergenic shell materials or coatings for individuals with allergies.
If the hearing loss persists, even after allergy symptoms resolve, consult an Audiologist or an ENT to make sure that the hearing loss does not need any long-term treatment.