Allergies can affect many aspects of your health, including your hearing. You need to understand what happens to your ears during an allergic reaction in order to understand how it may impact your hearing.
An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system goes into action to defend your body against a substance that does not cause problems for other people. Allergies can be seasonal, most often caused by mold and pollen, but they can also appear at various times of the year, not just in the spring or fall. Foods, plants, bee stings, insect bites, pet dander, dust and medications are also prime causes of allergic reactions.
Regardless of the trigger, some of the most common allergy symptoms include:
- Skin rashes and hives
- Itchy skin
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Coughing and sneezing
- Scratchy throat
- Nasal congestion
Impact on Your Ears
Your ears are not immune to allergies. Symptoms may include:
- Ear fullness or pressure
- A crackling sound without the presence of fluid
If the outer ear and ear canal itch or swell, it’s usually an indication you’re experiencing an allergic reaction. Swimmer’s ear is a related condition. Also known as otitis externa, swimmer’s ear occurs when water remains in the ear after swimming. The moisture creates the perfect environment for bacteria or fungi to grow and cause an allergic reaction.
Inside the ear, allergies can cause pain and pressure. When allergies occur, your body tissues become inflamed, allowing fluid to build up behind the eardrum, causing an ear infection or blocking the eustachian tube, which increases pressure in the ear.
Histamine Prompts Mucus Production
When you have an allergic reaction, your immune system releases histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine is a chemical your immune system uses to send messages between cells. It can cause certain symptoms to occur throughout your body.
When histamine is present, your body’s mucous membranes in the nasal cavity may become inflamed and congestion may result. Inflammation and congestion around the eustachian tube can lead to a middle ear infection and cause “conductive hearing loss.” This condition reduces the level of sound as it travels through the auditory system. It’s uncomfortable but usually goes away when the allergic reaction stops.
How to Handle an Allergic Reaction
Allergy symptoms are annoying and can be difficult to ignore. However, don’t attempt to relieve itching or irritation by scratching or inserting anything into your ear. For mild cases, over-the-counter antihistamines can provide relief. For more severe symptoms or if you can’t resist the urge to scratch, contact your physician or hearing care professional. These providers will provide appropriate treatment options and evaluate your hearing, if necessary.
Remember, conductive hearing loss due to allergies is short-lived. When the symptoms subside, your hearing should improve and the irritation should cease. If not, seek care from a hearing care professional.
Allergy Remedies Impact on Hearing Aids
Prescription eardrops and ointments used to treat irritated or infected ears can clog the ports on your hearing aid. Follow these tips to remedy the problem. Start by replacing your hearing aid speaker wax guards or microphone covers. You should notice an improvement immediately. Wiping your hearing aids with a cloth every day is also a good way to keep them working properly, both during and outside allergy season. Use a soft brush to remove more stubborn debris.
Find a hearing care center near you to discover the ways Sonic can help you stay healthy and make Everyday Sound Better.
Meth M. “Can allergies cause ear pain and infections?,” Medical News Today, March 2, 2020, accessed December 11, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/allergies-ear-pain.
Frothingham S. “Allergies and ear pain,” Healthline, January 30, 2019, accessed December 11, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies-ear-pain.