It’s allergy season! While it seems to sneak up on us every year, there are ways to prepare yourself for the sneezing, coughing, watery-eyed wonder that is hay fever. You’ll do your typical, seasonal chemist visit, stocking up on all the latest nasal sprays and allergy meds. One thing most people don’t consider when dealing with seasonal allergies? Their ears. Here’s what you need to know before hay fever hits.
The effect of mucus on your hearing
While no one likes to talk about mucus, it is important to know its contributing role in conductive hearing loss. When your immune system is faced with an allergen, it produces antibodies that release histamine, which in turn causes you to sneeze, feel itchy, and get congested. These symptoms aren’t just gross and frustrating for you and those around you, they also increase mucus production, which can cause conductive hearing loss – the same type that occurs when fluid or earwax prevent sound waves from flowing freely through the ear. While it is common and curable, you will typically have to wait until your symptoms subside before you notice your hearing go back to normal.
Each part of your ear, explained
Your entire ear is susceptible to allergic reactions in various ways. For instance, your outer ear can swell and itch when skin is exposed to harmful allergens. Moving inward, your middle ear can get blocked by swelling, which means your Eustachian tube may not be able to drain properly. This can cause fluid and pressure to build, which causes an annoying fullness in your ear, but also provides the perfect breeding bed for bacteria and infection. In extreme cases, this fluid buildup can trigger vertigo. Those with Ménière’s disease, which impacts your inner ear, may notice their symptoms worsen around allergy season.
What should you do?
First, let’s cover what you shouldn’t – never attempt to scratch or relieve your allergies by putting anything in your ears. Instead, we’d suggest washing your ears gently with a warm, damp washcloth. If you wear hearing aids, it should be noted that allergens can also clog their microphone ports, and you should take care to replace the covers of those ports. We also recommend cleaning your hearing aids more during allergy season. As always, see your doctor if you need help or are concerned about your symptoms.