Do your ears feel plugged and itchy in the fall? Do you notice a difference in your hearing ability?
Those may be signs of fall allergies. Your body’s immune response to allergens can cause temporary conductive hearing loss
What Causes Fall Allergies?
Your body releases antibodies called histamines to protect your immune system from allergens. That response creates allergic reactions such as congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itching and watery eyes.
Fall allergies are often caused by:
- Ragweed pollen
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Aside from common respiratory symptoms, you may also suffer from fall-related allergies if you experience:
- Imbalance or dizziness
- A plugged or full sensation in your ears
- Frequent ear infections
- Ear itchiness
- Ear pain
- Redness around your outer ear
- Hearing loss
How Allergies Affect Your Ears
Outer ear: The skin around or in the shell of your outer ear may become itchy and inflamed if you have fall allergies.
Middle ear: This part of your ear is the most likely to be affected by allergens. The Eustachian tube connects your upper respiratory system to your middle ear and drains fluid to regulate ear pressure. Allergic reactions increase mucus production and swelling in your nose, making it difficult for the Eustachian tube to do its job. That blockage narrows your ear canal and causes conductive hearing loss.
Inner ear: Fluid build-up and retention can trap bacteria and lead to ear infections. Allergies also impact your inner ear if you have Meniere’s disease, which causes dizziness and vertigo.
Fall Allergies and Hearing Aids
Pollen, dust and debris settle on your hearing aid mics and muffle sounds. You may feel the need to turn up the volume on your devices, which can cause further hearing damage if they’re too loud.
It’s important to clean your mic ports and other device openings regularly during fall allergy season. Allergens can also get caught on domes and wax guards, so change those components frequently.
If you’re unsure how to do that, Audio Help Hearing Centers created video tutorials to walk you through hearing aid cleaning. If you still feel uncomfortable, call our offices and our patient care professionals will help.
Addressing Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Be mindful of going outdoors: Check the daily pollen count before you head outside. It’s also a good idea to stay indoors when pollen is at its peak in the morning and early afternoon.
Wear a mask: A face covering will protect your mouth and nose from pollen when you venture outdoors.
Do some cleaning: You should clean your vents and change the air filter before turning on the heat.
Practice good personal hygiene: Wash your hands and face after coming indoors to rinse away pollen on your hands, eyes, nose and mouth. Wipe your ears with a clean wet washcloth, but don’t stick cotton swabs, bobby pins or other objects in your ears.
Schedule a hearing evaluation: Visit your audiologist if you suspect you’re experiencing allergy-related hearing loss for a comprehensive hearing test to determine the appropriate treatment.