The middle ear contains the tiny bones that conduct sound waves to the brain. It is connected to the back of the throat by a tube called the Eustachian tube which drains fluid from the middle ear. If the back of the throat swells due to allergies, the tube does too. As a result, the tube closes off and is unable to drain which can cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear causing acute hearing loss. About 40% of Americans are prone to allergies. Allergies are a reaction of your own cells to irritants, such as pollen, mold, and dust. These tiny particles can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. So how do allergies affect your hearing?
How Do Allergies Cause Hearing Problems?
The allergens, such as pollen, affect special cells in the tissues, called mast cells, which are part of your immune system. The mast cells release compounds which affect the blood vessels, making them more porous. Fluid moves from the blood into the tissues, causing swelling and mucus production.
Since the throat is one of the first places the allergies hit, this is where the swelling starts. The Eustachian tube swells shut and the ossicles are unable to transmit sound with subsequent hearing loss. The ear feels clogged and is sometimes painful, as the fluid presses against the sensitive eardrum.
The Effects on Hearing
People often say they feel like they’re inside a hollow drum when they have allergies. Sounds are muted and hard to understand because the sound waves are being conducted through the fluid, not by the ossicles. Without treatment, middle ear dysfunction can result in permanent hearing loss.
Many people also develop the problem of tinnitus or ringing in the ear, as well. The high pitched squealing or clicking can interfere with sleep and even with work.
Where Can You Find Hearing Care?
Treatment for allergies, especially when complicated by middle ear dysfunction, should be handled by experts. Specialists need to evaluate you to determine the cause of your allergies and the best plan of treatment.
For more information or to set up an appointment with a hearing care specialist at Beltone Dallas Fort Worth, call (888) 958-8432.