3 Reasons Your Seasonal Allergies Can Hurt Your Ears
If you have seasonal allergies, you're probably all too familiar with the unrelenting sneezing, the watery eyes, and the constant runny nose. While these are the most common symptoms associated with allergic reactions, there are less common manifestations of allergies. Some of these other symptoms may include changes in your skin texture, gastrointestinal problems, and even hearing loss. Here are three reasons your seasonal allergies may hurt your ears and what you can do about them.
Blocked Eustachian Tubes
Allergies, in addition to triggering systemic inflammation, including inflammation inside your ear canal, can lead to the accumulation of fluid inside your Eustachian tubes. Fluid coupled with inflamed Eustachian tubes can lead to muffled hearing, and in some cases, temporary hearing loss.
While allergy-related hearing loss typically resolves once your allergies are under control, severe scarring of your internal ear structures may lead to permanent hearing loss. Taking a non-prescription oral decongestant or using a decongestant nasal spray will help unblock your ears so that you can hear more clearly. Decongestants will also help ease the uncomfortable pressure that can sometimes build up inside your ears during allergy season.
Allergic responses as well as your allergy medications can cause dry skin in and around your ears. While dry skin in the outer portion of you ear poses little risk to your hearing, skin alterations inside your ear canal may damage the hair cells, resulting in hearing loss.
If you take antihistamines to manage your symptoms and experience dry, itchy, or scaly skin in or around your ears, you can use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help dampen inflammation while relieving itching and irritation. If your skin problem persists, see your physician, who may recommend that you visit a dermatologist for further treatment.
Since fluid can build up inside your inner ear during allergy season, you may be at a heightened risk for developing vertigo. Vertigo causes a whirling sensation that is often accompanied by severe nausea and loss of balance. In extreme cases, vertigo can cause you to fall down and develop heart palpitations.
While often harmless, allergy-related vertigo can signal the beginning of an inner ear infection. When fluid accumulates deep inside the ear canal, bacteria and other microorganism can grow, causing a severe earache, drainage, bleeding from the ear, sore throat, and fever.
If your doctor determines that your seasonal allergies caused a bacterial ear infection, you may be given a prescription for oral antibiotics. Once the infection has resolved, your symptoms, including vertigo, will fade away.
If you have seasonal or other types of allergies and develop any of the above conditions, see your doctor. The sooner your symptoms are recognized and treated, the less likely you will be to experience complications such as permanent hearing loss or vertigo. For more information about hearing loss, consult a professional such as Albuquerque Hearing Associates.