Seasonal allergies likely cause itchy, watery eyes, and sinus trouble. But they can also wreak havoc on your ears. Yearly or seasonal allergies can lead to temporary hearing loss or tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing in the ears.
An allergy is a common autoimmune disease and the body’s response to an allergen. When allergens are introduced to the body, the immune system produces antibodies to release histamine, an organic compound that causes inflammatory reactions.
Up to 30 percent of American adults are affected by allergies and may experience symptoms in the inner, middle, or outer parts of the ear. Symptoms include:
Outer ear: Ear canal may swell, itch, or turn red.
Middle ear: The pressure-controlling Eustachian tube may become swollen or filled with mucus. Hearing may become muddled or make the ears feel “full,” a condition known as conductive hearing loss.
Inner ear: Allergic reactions can cause tinnitus, vertigo (dizziness), and ear fullness or pressure. Meniere’s disease, which causes vertigo, can also be caused by allergic reactions.
Conductive hearing loss and other allergy-related ear conditions should subside once allergy season passes. However, if you experience pain or an extended period of sudden hearing loss, contact your audiologist immediately.
Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED)
Autoimmune inner ear disease occurs when the immune system responds to allergens by attacking the inner ear. The hearing nerve in the inner ear can be damaged in the process. The damage can cause sudden hearing loss that progressively gets worse. The cause of autoimmune hearing loss is unknown, but symptoms include Meniere’s disease, changes in your hearing, dizziness, and ear fullness.
Your audiologist may recommend a blood test to show if the immune system is attacking the inner ear. You may also need to speak with your primary physician about using steroids to slow down the body’s response to the allergens. Steroids can reduce symptoms, improve balance, and stabilize hearing.
Over-the-counter medications like decongestants and antihistamines help most seasonal allergy sufferers with their symptoms, including ear irritation. Symptoms will usually subside after allergy season.
If you suspect your hearing is affected by an allergic reaction, call Audiology & Hearing Aid Solutions at 888.473.8702 or contact us online. We have six locations across New Jersey in Clifton, Paramus, Pompton Lakes, Mahwah, Morristown, and Pompton Plains.