Discover the Connections for a Healthier Spring
Coughing. Sneezing. Itchy eyes. Fatigue. If you’re among the over 25% of U.S. adults living with allergic rhinitis or hay fever, per estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you probably know it can mean more than just a runny nose.
But did you know it can also lead to hearing loss? Get the facts, including ways to help protect your hearing when allergic rhinitis strikes.
What Exactly Is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is a condition in which your body’s immune system, designed to protect against infection, overreacts to an environmental stimulus that’s generally harmless for the majority of people. The immune system launches an antibody known as “immunoglobulin E” or “IgE,” which binds to the invading allergen.
Though the body may be working hard to neutralize the perceived threat, the effort can lead to problematic symptoms involving the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or even the ears. It can trigger inflammation, itchiness, excess mucus, and other problems potentially requiring medical attention.
Is Allergic Rhinitis A Seasonal Problem?
Though often called “hay fever” or referred to as “seasonal allergies,” allergic rhinitis isn’t necessarily connected to hay and can occur any time of year—not just spring or summer. Pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, cigarette smoke, and even roaches can trigger a response, making it important to learn what specific allergens may affect an individual.
What’s The Connection To Hearing Loss?
In a nutshell, allergic rhinitis can lead to swelling and fluid buildup in the ear or the sensation of plugged ears, interfering with the ability to hear. As the body fights an allergen such as pollen, for example, excess fluid can interrupt functioning of the Eustachian tube, which normally drains secretions and regulates pressure in the middle ear. Without proper drainage, both infection and hearing loss can result.
How Can I Protect My Hearing?
Knowledge is power, making it important to understand which potential allergens may trigger an immunity response. Diagnostic evaluations for allergies can range from skin-prick testing to blood tests to several other options, depending on factors such as specific symptoms and the possible allergens involved.
It’s also crucial to stay atop your hearing wellness, including seeking care from a licensed audiologist if you’re having difficulty hearing or if you experience allergies. Catching potential problems early can go a long way toward ensuring optimal ear and hearing health.
Comprehensive Audiology, at 261 Broadway in Lynbrook, helps people of all ages live better by hearing their best. Appointments can be made by calling 516-387-4000 or by scheduling online at comprehensiveaudiology.com/make-appointment. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube, or Instagram @comprehensive_audiology.
Is It A Cold Or Allergy?
Although allergies can affect hearing through inflammation and fluid buildup in the ear, so can the common cold and other viruses. Knowing the differences between allergies and illness is key:
• Have your symptoms lasted longer than two weeks?
• Have your symptoms stayed consistent?
• Are your eyes, mouth, nose, throat, or skin itchy?
• Are you wheezing or displaying other asthma symptoms?
If two or more of these apply to you, it’s probably allergies. Depending on the severity, you may need treatment, so don’t wait. Getting to the bottom of your allergies and seeking regular hearing checkups can help prevent hearing loss.