When most people think of allergy symptoms, they think of itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and a headache. However, some people also experience hearing loss. We review the connection between allergies and hearing loss below.

How Do Allergies Occur

Close up of a doctor doing a medical exam on his patient

Your immune system’s job is to protect your body from diseases, viruses and bacteria. However, sometimes it mistakes a harmless substance, like pollen while out at Bountiful City Parks, for something harmful and overreacts.

During this overreaction, the immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which tells the cells to release histamine. Histamine is a chemical that triggers increased mucus production and inflammation – including in your ears.

How Allergies Affect the Ears

The outer, middle and inner ears can all be affected by allergies.

  • The outer ear can be affected by allergic skin reactions, often caused by laundry detergent, fragrance or earrings. If the outer ear or ear canal swells, it can block soundwaves from passing through. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive hearing loss.
  • The middle ear contains the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ears to the back of the throat to allow fluid to drain and air pressure to equalize. Inflammation can block the Eustachian tubes, trapping fluid and causing ear infections.
  • The inner ear can be affected by allergies if you have a Meniere’s disease, a condition that causes episodes of hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a feeling of fullness in the ears.

Managing Allergies

The best way to prevent allergy-induced hearing loss is to manage your allergies. There are many strategies for this, including:

  • Practicing avoidance of known allergens by staying indoors with the windows closed when pollen counts are high, showering and changing right away after spending time outside, keeping pets out of bedrooms, vacuuming and dusting regularly and installing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Taking over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays.
  • Undergoing immunotherapy, a long-term solution that works by getting your body used to encountering certain allergens.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Bountiful Hearing Center today.