Seasonal Allergies Play a Role In Your Hearing and Balance
Warmer weather, a slight breeze, flowers blooming, bees buzzing allergy season, er uh, springtime, is here. This time of year plants have more potential to produce pollen into the air to trigger allergy symptoms. Some allergy sufferers will experience runny noses and itchy eyes, but others may feel pressure in the ear, a ringing sensation in the ears or vertigo (dizziness) during this season.
When the immune system reacts to an allergen, it produces antibodies that release histamine, which is responsible for your sneezing, itchy nose and congestion. The histamine causes an increased amount of mucus production as well, which can create problems in your ears.
In particular, the Eustachian tube (a drainage passage for the middle ear) can become clogged. This clogged impression can cause patients to feel a sense of fullness or pressure in the ears, as well as a loss in their hearing. This is because the fluid presses against the eardrum to cause discomfort. Allergies also can cause a fluctuating level of fluid in the ear, which can make you able to hear some of the time and other times can be difficult.
It should come as no surprise that with allergies come the risk of infections. As there is increased moisture in the ear from fluid, bacteria are able to thrive more easily and cause a middle ear infection. If you experience regular middle ear infections, there is a possibility it could lead to tinnitus or hearing loss.
If you develop a viral or bacterial infection (like sinusitis) you may experience vertigo or dizziness. The infection causes inflammation of the inner ear or of the balance nerve of either ear, which can result in sudden, onset vertigo (spinning sensations) for a few minutes, hours, days or even weeks accompanied by nausea, vomiting, queasiness and disorientation as well as hearing loss. Keep in mind that other medical conditions not related to the inner ear or infections can cause patients to report symptoms of vertigo, unsteadiness, wooziness, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
For people experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus or dizziness during this season, it is likely that the symptoms will subside as allergy triggers dissipate. However, it is usually best to visit your audiologist to make sure your issue does not need long-term treatment.
When you go to an audiologist for comprehensive hearing testing, he/she will determine the degree of hearing loss and where in the auditory system the loss is occurring. He/She will also discuss possible treatment options depending on your type of hearing loss.
Comprehensive balance testing performed by a doctor of audiology involves an array of specialized diagnostics to identify dysfunction within the balance system. The data collected during testing may allow the audiologist to discuss treatment options during that same appointment time or may require him/her to collaborate with your physician or specialist for the best possible outcome.