It’s allergy season. That stuffy-nosed, watery-eyed, and always itchy part of the year. When the sniffles begin, I know my hearing is about to take a temporary dip. On my worst allergy days, I feel like I am walking in a fog. Sounds are muffled and my ears are popping more than usual as they work to clear the increased pressure.
Each time I move my head I can almost feel the fluid shifting position, bringing on dizziness or even vertigo. Sometimes it can even cause my tinnitus to spike. Allergies are miserable for everyone, but when you have a hearing loss, they can take a significant toll on your ability to communicate.
Why do seasonal allergies impact your hearing?
Seasonal allergies can cause fluid to build up in your middle ear, bringing a feeling of pressure and blocking sound waves from reaching your eardrum, making it harder for you to hear. This type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss, because it is caused by problems “conducting” the sound from its source to where it is heard. This is similar to what people with hearing loss experience when they have a head cold. You can read my post about that here.
The good news is that hearing loss from seasonal allergies is usually temporary and with proper medication and treatment, the impact can be minimized. Still, if you have seasonal allergies and hearing loss, try to enjoy the spring flowers from a distance.
What can you do about allergies and hearing loss?
1. Be medicated: Ask you doctor or pharmacist what over-the-counter products will work best for your symptoms and specific allergies. Decongestants are often helpful in shrinking inflammation in the nasal passages and help dry up excess fluid. Nasal saline sprays can also help with this. A combination of medicines taken by mouth and directly into the nose often work best.
2. Be prepared: If you experience the same allergies each year, you probably know when on the calendar symptoms will begin. Start your allergy medication routine a week or two in advance to help prevent symptom onset. You could start with a smaller than typical dose and when you feel symptoms begin, step up to full power.
3. Be consistent: Take your medicine every day during allergy season. Pollen levels may ebb and flow, but a consistent regimen will keep your body feeling its best during the inevitable spikes.
4. Be diligent: Wash your hands and face as often as you can, particularly when you have spent any time outside. This will remove the allergens from your skin, where they can travel into your nasal passages or mouth. In the height of the season, some allergists recommend you change your shirt after spending a lot of time outside to clear away the pollen that has likely collected there.
5. Be wise: If possible, stay inside on high pollen count days. You can check the pollen forecast online at The Weather Channel. Type in your zip code and you can see the upcoming severity in pollen levels for your area.
6. Be forthcoming: Let people know that your allergies have taken a temporary toll on your hearing and ask them to speak a little bit louder so you can hear. Most people can relate to this experience so I often get more consistent help when I have a cold or allergy moment than I do when my hearing is just its normal sub par self.
Readers, do your allergies impact your hearing?
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