How Allergies Impact Ear Health

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While the painful, inconvenient nose, throat, and eye symptoms allergies cause are widely known, many may not realize allergies can affect our ears as well. The same allergic reaction that causes congestion, a runny nose, a scratchy throat, and itchy, watery eyes can also upset the delicate workings of our ears, impairing our balance and hearing. Left untreated, ear symptoms caused by allergies can permanently damage the sensitive bones and tissue inside our ears, causing hearing loss and balance issues.

Itchiness from allergies doesn’t just affect our eyes, irritation from pollen and other allergens can leave our outer ear and ear canal inflamed and itchy. Avoid scratching itchy ears to prevent damaging the delicate skin, instead wash the affected area with a warm, damp washcloth, going around the opening of the ear canal, but not pushing into it. Cleaning inside the ear canal with objects like washcloths or q-tips can push wax against the eardrum, increasing risks of damage or infection. This can also worsen the feeling of fullness in the ears caused by allergies.

The sensation of fullness in the ears during allergy flare-ups is caused by fluid and wax buildup. Normally, our ears drain excess fluid and wax into our sinuses, which helps keep our hearing strong and balance regulated. Swelling and excess mucus from allergies block this drainage system, which can leave our ears feeling full or on the verge of popping. This fluid buildup doesn’t just cause painful pressure, it can throw off our balance and leave us feeling dizzy. It can also cause conductive hearing loss, a temporary condition that muffles sound. While conductive hearing loss is uncomfortable, it should only last as long as an allergy flare-up. However, left untreated, ears clogged from allergies are at higher risks for painful chronic infections which can cause permanent hearing damage. Using a sterile saline solution to rinse your nose can help drain your sinuses, which can temporarily relieve ear pressure by allowing room for fluid to drain. However, this will not eliminate the swelling caused by allergies so the discomfort will often return as the sinuses refill.

Due to ear’s delicate nature, there is a limit to what allergy-sufferers can do at home to manage their symptoms. Keeping ears clean and managing allergy congestion can help reduce itchiness and pressure, but these are temporary solutions. The safest, most effective way of eliminating ear-related allergy symptoms is to treat allergies at their source. Seeking help from a certified ear, nose, and throat specialist is the first step to taking back your ears from allergies. Dr. Pasha begins allergy treatment with a test to determine the source of a patient’s allergies before working with them to find the best solution for their health. Don’t let allergies mess with your ears, schedule an appointment with us today.