Can Allergies Cause Hearing Loss and Tinnitus?
Yes, allergies can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. A Firat University study was conducted on 31 patients who were diagnosed with sudden hearing loss.
The study results showed a correlation between allergies and sudden hearing loss in 61.9% of the patients.
Tinnitus, which is most commonly referred to as ringing in the ears, can be caused by allergies. Tinnitus has many other possible causes like medications, ear abnormalities, and hearing loss.
Hearing loss and tinnitus are not always linked to allergies, allergies are just one of many conditions that can cause hearing troubles.
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How Do Allergies Cause Hearing Loss and Ringing in the Ears?
Allergies usually give us symptoms of runny noses, cough, itchy/watery eyes, and sneezing.
These symptoms are taking place near the ears. Due to the proximity to the ears, your symptoms can affect your hearing.
Colds and allergies have very similar symptoms, so it’s no wonder that when we are sick our ears feel stuffy like we are losing our hearing.
Losing some of your ability to hear clearly while sick or every once in a while from allergies, usually isn’t something too concerning as your hearing should come back as the symptoms fade.
Chronic Inflammation and Hearing Loss
Experts believe that there is a correlation between Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS) patients and sensorineural hearing loss.
This study was conducted by the Department of Otolaryngology, First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University.
The study team defines CRS as “Persistent inflammation of the nasal cavity and sinus mucous membranes for more than 12 weeks.”
With this definition of CRS, I believe that these patients could very likely have persistent inflammation from their allergies.
This research concluded that hearing loss may have a common cause in CRS patients.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
NHS.uk explains that there are a few different symptoms and warning signs (besides not being able to hear very well)
Early warning signs of hearing loss:
- Difficulty hearing other people clearly
- Misunderstanding conversations (especially in noisy areas)
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Watching TV or listening to music at a higher volume than others
- Difficult to hear on the phone
- Finding it hard to keep up with a conversation
- Feeling tired or stressed from concentrating while listening
- Muffled hearing
- Ringing in the ears
Hearing loss in general is something that usually happens slowly over time when you are exposed to loud noise.
Hearing loss that is not noise-induced can be caused by allergies, head trauma, medications, trouble with the mechanics inside your ears, diseases, and many other conditions.
Can Allergies Cause Inner Ear Problems?
Yes, allergies can cause inner, middle, and outer ear problems. Healthy Hearing states that your outer ear (the part you can see) can have an allergic reaction to detergents, fragrances, earrings, and pet dander.
Your allergies can cause swelling and itching of the ears, and ear canal.
The middle ear might become blocked if the outer ear swells enough. This swelling can shut off your Eustachian tube, which helps drain fluid from the ears.
When the fluid cannot drain your ears feel full, and this can lead to an ear infection.
The fluid buildup in your ears can throw off your balance, making you dizzy or feel lightheaded.
Healthy Hearing additionally explains that allergies might contribute to hearing loss for people with Meniere’s disease.
What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s Disease (MD) is a condition that contains symptoms such as fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus, and aural pressure.
So… what is Meniere’s Disease? In layman’s terms, Meniere’s Disease can cause loss of hearing, dizziness spells, ringing in the ears, and ear pressure.
The Link Between Allergy and Meniere’s Disease (MD)
The study “The Link between Allergy and Meniere’s Disease” suggests there might be a link between allergies and MD.
This is suggested because there have been animal studies that prove allergic activity within the inner ear.
Further studies do need to be accomplished to actually prove the link between allergies and MD in humans.
Until then, MD is considered an idiopathic disease, meaning there is no known cause.
Science hasn’t proved a direct link (in humans) yet, but they do suggest that it might be a good idea to treat those with MD in a similar fashion as an allergy treatment (i.e., medications, immunotherapy, allergen avoidance).
How to Treat Hearing Loss Caused By Allergies
To treat temporary hearing loss and ringing in the ears caused by allergies, you need to treat the allergies. Here are some treatment ideas for you to discuss with your doctor.
Allergy-Related Hearing Loss Treatment Options
Medical professionals tend to initially treat allergies with antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Benadryl.
Decongestants are used to give your stuffy nose some relief. The most popular decongestant is Sudafed.
Some allergy medications have decongestants already in them, so watch out and don’t double dose.
Medicated Nasal Sprays
Nasal sprays can help treat your allergy-related hearing loss by calming down inflammation in your sinuses by using a corticosteroid.
Flonase (fluticasone propionate) is available over the counter.
Flonase can give you some relief within 12 hours of starting the medication, but full effects don’t kick in until about day 4.
I have been on Flonase for many years, and have experienced a decrease in allergy symptoms.
Nasal rinsing is where you rinse your sinuses out, usually with pH-balanced saltwater (does not burn).
The goal is to flush the irritants and allergens from your sinuses to relieve allergy symptoms.
There is a broad range of options on the market that fit all price points ($7-$110). Here are a few nasal rinse examples.
NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit
Contains everything you need for all-natural sinus relief, the cost is about $15.
Navage Nasal Care Starter Bundle
Fast nasal relief with the use of suction to purge the sinuses.
This kit has the most features of the nasal rinses and costs about $100.
Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Mist
Ready to go product, so you won’t have to mix any solutions. May not rinse as well as the NeilMed or Navage products.
Affordable, easy to use, drug-free
NeilMed Sinugator Cordless Pulsating Nasal Wash Kit
If you are looking for a nasal rinse that is a blend of all features and affordable.
Check this kit out.
It comes with an electronic irrigator, 30 premixed (all-natural) packets, and batteries.
The best part is it’s less than $30 bucks!
Treatment for Allergy-Induced Tinnitus
Treatment for allergy-induced tinnitus would start with the same treatment options as allergy treatments.
Tinnitus can be caused by many different conditions, so these recommendations would only assist in treating allergy-related tinnitus.
Talk with your medical provider to see what the best option is for you.
How to Avoid Allergy-Induced Hearing Loss
The best option to help with allergy-induced hearing loss or ringing in the ears is avoidance.
Avoiding your allergy triggers is the best way to limit symptoms, but that is not always possible.
Here are some ways to limit your allergen exposures.
Use A HEPA Filter/Air Purifier
An air purifier cleans the air of airborne viruses and allergens alike.
HEPA filter air purifiers can remove up to 99.97% of particles in the air.
Our family uses an air purifier, and it has been a game-changer. Here is my full review, WINIX PlasmaWave 5500-2 True HEPA Air Purifier Review
Cleaning Away Allergens
If you are like me, cleaning is not at the top of my to-do list. But, once I learned that cleaning can help relieve allergy symptoms I changed my mind.
Wipe down and clean horizontal surfaces often.
Surfaces begin to build up with dust, dander, pollen, and more.
If these surfaces are not cleaned, any disruption to that dirty surface will send the allergens airborne.
Force of Nature Cleaner For ALL Allergen Cleaning Needs
Force of Nature Cleaner/disinfectant is what you need for any type of cleaning, and it can be used on all surfaces.
This sanitizer also replaces all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, carpet cleaner, bathroom cleaner.
Quick Force of Nature Facts:
- Saves you money
- Made at Home
- EPA approved disinfectant (even against COVID-19 and Delta variant)
- Kid and Pet Safe
Change All Filters
Everything seems to have some sort of filter these days, make sure they are clean so they do not blow allergens around your home.
Check for filters in these areas:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Robot vacuum cleaner
- Heating/Cooling (HVAC system)
- AC window unit
- Air purifier
- Cabin Air Filter (in the car)
Wash Allergen Exposed Clothing
You should change out of and wash your clothes after you have been exposed to your allergy triggers.
Allergens stick to clothes and can continuously make you symptomatic if you don’t change or wash the allergens away.
Take a Shower
I mean this in the nicest way. Taking a bath or shower can help greatly with allergen removal from your body.
All allergen exposed hair and skin can trap dander, mold, pollen, and more.
Keep Windows Closed
Fresh air is the greatest when you are in your car or home. This fresh air can cause severe allergic reactions during peak allergy seasons. When your windows are open, the allergens are rolling in.
Keep car and house windows closed as often as possible.
Allergies That Can Cause Hearing Loss
Any allergies that affect the middle or inner ear can cause hearing loss. Examples include seasonal, food, pet, and environmental allergies.
In extreme and rare cases, contact dermatitis (perfumes, lotions) or metal (earrings) allergies can lead to severe swelling and affect the middle ear.
This swelling in the middle ear can cause temporary hearing loss.
Take Care of Hearing Aids During Allergy Season
Hearing aid performance can be degraded during the allergy season.
Hearing aids need to have regular cleanings to perform at their best. A hearing aid that is clogged with ear wax or debris can make your hearing sound muffled.
I learned some great tips for cleaning hearing aids from healthyhearing.com, here are the highlights.
- Use the proper hearing aid cleaning tools
- Wash your hands before cleaning
- Inspect hearing aids for damages
- Focus on microphone port areas
- Use a wax pick or hook to remove buildup
- Clean hearing aids at night to allow for proper air drying
- Do not store hearing aids in pockets (gets dirty with lint and dust)
Next up, check out the 35 Worst States for Allergies and discover what states you might need to avoid on your path to becoming allergy symptom-free.