Seasonal Allergies And Stuffy Ears
Allergies are another unwanted accompaniment to spring. While most think of allergies as sneezing and sinus pressure, it is important to remember that the ears and sinuses are interconnected.
“People take it for granted that allergies cause sneezing in the nose and itching in the eyes. Yet they seem surprised to learn allergies inevitably affect their ears as well,” said Dr. Ronna Fisher, Au.D.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, seasonal allergies affect between 10 and 30 percent of adults in the U.S. and as many as 40 percent of children, which means as many as 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from not only sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy ears, and sinus pressure, but ear pressure as well. The warm, wet weather of spring causes trees to produce more pollen. For those who are allergic, the immune system reacts by producing antibodies.
Those antibodies release a substance called histamine, which leads to increased mucus production. Unfortunately allergies also cause swelling of the Eustachian tubes, meaning they dont open as they should. This causes the Eustachian tubes to become clogged with the excess fluid and wax, and the result is a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears that can negatively affect hearing.
What Can Allergies Do To My Ears
Allergies can cause swelling and irritation of your outer ear. Nasal swelling and inflammation can also cause pressure and fluid to form in the middle ear. Both of these conditions can cause hearing loss by blocking your ear from receiving sound waves.
You may know that babies and young children often get ear infections through fluid buildup in the middle ear. Allergy-related fluid buildup can also cause infections in both children and adults.
Allergies can also cause inner ear problems, too, such as Menieres disease. Menieres disease is a condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. While the exact cause is not known, allergies or the related infections can be a trigger and lead to worsening symptoms, CEENTA ENT doctorJohn Kilde, MD, said.
Causes Of Ringing In The Ears
Many people experience ringing in the ears, which is also known as tinnitus. Some people experience ringing only occasionally, while others experience it non-stop. Figuring out the cause of the ringing ears is key to figuring out how to fix it.
When you experience this ringing, it is because the small hairs in your inner ear have been damaged. The level of damage done will determine how long the ringing lasts. It can occur in both ears or only in one, and it can be constant or occasional.
Whether this is a common problem for you or if its been a one-time issue, you know how annoying it is. Not only is it annoying, but it can seriously interfere with your life if it becomes too bad. It can become hard to hold a conversation or focus on a task, resulting in many issues.
Tinnitus isnt life-threatening, but it can have damaging effects on your life. From interfering with your life to simply annoying you constantly, it is best to figure out the cause and fix it.
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An Introduction To Blocked Ears And Seasonal Allergies
Blocked ears can be a symptom of seasonal allergies and aside from making any other symptoms of congestion feel worse, may also affect your hearing.
As with other symptoms of hayfever, blocked ears is the result of your bodys immune system reacting to pollen and consequently producing too much histamine.
Excess production of this chemical causes local irritation and inflammation in the mucous lining of the nose, throat and ears, and in particular of the Eustachian tube.
Ringing In Ear Due To Allergy Or Something Else
painintheear76499 over a year ago
Guest over a year ago
Santafean221470 over a year ago
Guest over a year ago
How about dizziness??.. bleeding nose when you blow it sometimes?.. shortness of breath, or sinusitus as well… squishy sounds and crickets from miles away… yep…
hate to say it, but your all living with some sort of mold. Could be in the walls, or even a minute as changing a shower curtain, shower towel, to sticking a coat hanger down your drains to see if motor oil like residue comes back on the hanger.
I too have ringing in the ears… our fall here starts to get cold around OCT.. so the furnace kicks in… within 2 weeks.. oh here it goes again!!… the ringing… and it will go till march where I finally break down and visit a dr for antibiotics. Why wait so long you say? cause I dont like the fact of being on antibiotics every year. Sure ringing in the ears is annoying, but eventually not having the antibiotics work later in life when I really really need it too.. is kinda scarey.
Although.. antibiotics will take the ringing away IF!!! its an allergy cause them to ring.. if not they may ring more after antibiotics.
Other reasons for ringing in the ears.. your place is DRY.. your nasals are dry. so of course your inner ear is dried right out.
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Allergies Can Cause Ear Pain
While earaches arent necessarily the most common symptom of an allergic reaction which is why you may not suspect allergies as the cause it can happen. This is because the membrane lining the Eustachian tube can become swollen and inflamed, and this inflammation can lead to an imbalance in the pressure of the ears. The result is fluid buildup and a blocked ear.
Surgical Treatment For Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
The primary goal of surgical treatment is to bypass the eustachian tube in order to ventilate the middle ear. Surgery can restore hearing, relieve pressure sensation in the ear and reduce the tendency for middle ear infections.
Types of surgery include:
Myringotomy – We make a tiny incision in the eardrum and suction out any fluid in the middle ear. In adults, the incision often stays open long enough to allow the swelling in the Eustachian tube lining to resolve. After the eardrum heals , fluid in the middle ear fluid may begin to re-accumulate if the Eustachian tube lining has not recovered.
Pressure equalization tubes – During this procedure we will:
Over time, the tube is pushed out as the eardrum heals. A pressure equalization tube usually provides middle ear ventilation for six to 12 months. Often, the eustachian tube will have recovered by this time, and we will not need to replace the tubes. If you have a more chronic condition, however, we can use longer lasting tubes. In adults, the procedure takes about five minutes and can be performed in the office using a topical anesthetic. In children, we will use a light general anesthetic.
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Causes Of Ear Congestion
- Common Cold. A viral infection of the nose is the most common cause. The nasal congestion also blocks the ear tube . The ear tube normally keeps air in the middle ear.
- Ear Infection. Middle ear pus can also cause muffled hearing on that side. This commonly happens with an ear infection.
- Middle Ear Fluid. Fluid may remain in the middle ear after the infection is cleared up. It can last for months. The main symptoms are popping and crackling noises in the ear.
- Blowing the Nose. Blowing too hard can force secretions into the ear tube.
- Allergic Rhinitis. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollens. It causes nasal congestion, clear drainage and sneezing. It also can block the ear tube and back up secretions in the ear.
- Airplane Ear. If the ear tube is blocked, sudden increases in air pressure can cause the eardrum to stretch. The main symptom is ear pain. Sometimes, it just causes congestion. It usually starts when coming down for a landing. It can also occur during mountain driving.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- My ears feel full and dont feel better when I yawn. Could I have Eustachian tube dysfunction?
- What can I do to make my child more comfortable?
- My child has Eustachian tube dysfunction. Does this mean he/she will have ear infections?
- Is there anything I can do when I travel to make myself more comfortable?
- Could my allergies make Eustachian tube dysfunction worse?
- What is the best way to treat my Eustachian tube dysfunction?
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Injuries In The Head Or Neck
Even a little stress in your head or neck can cause tinnitus, so injury is a sure cause. This is because the head and neck connect to your ears and hearing. One way to know if this is the cause is if the ringing is only in one ear.
Some of the head or neck injuries that can cause tinnitus include being in an accident or hitting your head. Sports injuries from high-contact sports are often a cause of head injuries, too.
Fungal Infection Or Candida
If you are prone to fungal infection on your feet, groin or armpit area, it is possible to have that your ear itching is caused by a fungal infection on your ear canal. Frequent swimming might cause moisture in your ears that give a favorable condition for fungal growth leading to itching ear canal. A fungal ear drop will always be recommend.
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Ear Popping And Fullness
Ear popping and sensations of the ear feeling full are common symptoms of allergies, states the American Academy of Family Physicians 1. This can occur if the mucus produced by an allergic reaction, drains into the Eustachian tube. This tube travels from the back of the ear into the throat. Its job is to drain excess fluid from the ear and equalize the pressure in the ears. If the lining of this tube becomes inflamed, then the ears may start to feel full and pop.
Since the ears play a role in maintaining balance, inflammation can lead to a loss of balance, dizziness and even vertigo. The first step in treatment, is to identify the allergen that is triggering the symptoms, and then taking steps to lower exposure when possible
- Ear popping and sensations of the ear feeling full are common symptoms of allergies, states the American Academy of Family Physicians 1.
- If the lining of this tube becomes inflamed, then the ears may start to feel full and pop.
Brain Injury Or Head Trauma
A serious brain injury or head trauma can damage bones in the middle ear or nerves in the inner ear. This can happen after a fall or blow to the head. Other symptoms of a head injury include headaches, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
Muffled hearing doesnt always occur by itself. It can appear with other symptoms, too. Its important to describe all symptoms to a doctor to help identify the underlying cause.
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Are There Home Remedies To Help With Blocked Ears
Often holding your nose and mouth closed and blowing until you feel your ears pop helps to equalise the pressure in your middle ear, relieving the symptoms of a blocked ear. However, you need to be careful not to blow too hard and damage the delicate structures in your ear, such as the eardrum. As your blocked ear is caused by hayfever, this procedure is likely to only bring temporary relief.
Another home remedy is to inhale steam, The steam may help to thin and loosen the mucus, which then may be released. A hot steamy shower, sauna or humidifier will work in the same way.
Eating hot foods or spicy foods , often helps to soften the mucus that is blocking your ears, and will also help with any congestion of the nasal cavities.
Although not exactly a remedy, it is important to keep your head up, as bending over with your head down increases the pressure inside your ear, worsening the feelings of congestion.
Allergies And Your Nose
Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is the term typically used to describe the allergic reaction that happens in your nose. You may have uncontrollable sneezing or a runny and stuffy nose.
Nasal Spray for Allergy Relief
If you suffer from severe allergies or frequent sinus infections, youre probably all too familiar with the fast-acting power of nasal spray. And while these sprays can clear a stuffy nose in seconds, not all nasal sprays are created equal.
There are four common types of nasal sprays on the market today:
- Saline: Because saline sprays are made from mostly salt and water, theyre safe to use every day.
- Antihistamine: These sprays are typically used to relieve congestion and usually cause less drowsiness than antihistamine pills, and are available by all available over the counter. Talk to one of our Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia board-certified allergy specialists about which one we recommend.
- Steroid: These sprays can be used as a preventative measure and to control allergy symptoms. They are available over the counter and can be used daily during allergy season to provide relief.
- Decongestant sprays are popular because they instantly shrink the blood vessels in your nose and alleviate congestion. However, they can also cause nasal spray addiction. This is because people find themselves needing the spray to breathe easily even when allergies are not making them congested.
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Symptoms Of Hearing Loss Due To Allergy
A temporary hearing loss caused by pollen allergies is typically common in children. Children are more susceptible to ear infections because they have a shorter eustachian tube, making it easier for a build-up of mucus to occur.
You should look out for the following symptoms, especially if you or your child suffers from hay fever or other allergies:
- Ear ache
- A short-term loss of hearing
- Feeling imbalanced
It is important to see medical advice if symptoms are recurring after the allergic reactions has passed over.
How Are Your Ears Affected
Our ears are made up of three parts the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. Allergic reactions can cause the outer ear to itch or swell. The middle ear contains the Eustachian tube, which acts as a drainage tube of sorts. When mucus clogs the middle ear it affects that drainage. Pressure builds, which can lead to discomfort, popping in the ears or an earache. Your middle ear may itch as well. The inner ear is filled with fluid, and if this fluid becomes infected, you may suffer dizziness, ringing in the ear or loss of balance.
Sometimes a stuffy nose and sinus pressure can radiate to the ears, causing pressure or earaches.
Some people experience a short-term hearing loss due to an allergic reaction. This is known as conductive hearing loss and usually is temporary and resolves itself when the allergies subside.
Young children commonly experience middle ear infections, which may be triggered by allergies. These infections are known as otitis media. If these occur often, a professional may recommend allergy tests.
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What Are These Itchy Rash On Ears
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Itch rashes on ears is commonly associated with skin problems or conditions such as eczema , psoriasis , contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, ringworms or bug bites.
Note that if you have a red-pink rash behind your ears that spreads to your neck and around your head, comes with fever, swollen lymph nodes, cold like symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat or cold, it could be rubella, a viral infection.
Causes & Symptoms Of Ear Infections In Dogs
Your dogs ears naturally have yeast and bacteria in them, but ear infections occur when the ear becomes moist and inflamed with increased wax and discharge. This allows the yeast and bacteria to multiple and overwhelms the immune systems ability to control the infection. If you notice your dog scratching their ears or shaking their head more often than usual, dragging the side of their face along the carpet or furniture, smell a bad odor from the ear, or see redness on their inner ear flap or in their ear canal, they could have an ear infection.
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What Can You Do
Avoid foods high in histamine this includes milk-based products, foods with artificial colourings, cashew nuts, walnuts and smoked meats. These are likely to increase the severity of allergic rhinitis symptoms such as congestion and inflammation.
Drink lots of water its always important to stay hydrated but especially if youre suffering from allergic rhinitis. Thats because water can loosen and thin mucus which can, in turn, help ease congestion and relieve pressure build-up in the ears.
Give your immune system a helping hand when busy fighting off allergens left, right and centre, the immune system has to work a lot harder than would normally be the case so it may need a little more assistance. Echinaforce Echinacea Drops are perfect for this as they help to strengthen and support the immune system. Also, uniquely, they are made from fresh Echinacea so that they do not lose any of their beneficial properties as can be the case with some dried varieties.
Have a warm bath or shower – steam contains moisture and heat which thins mucus and therefore reduces congestion. So, having lots of warm showers and baths is a simple step to take in order to improve your allergic rhinitis symptoms.
Opt for foods low in histamine this includes fresh fruit, meat and vegetables.
How Do I Deal With These Issues
The first thing to do to deal with allergy-related ear issues is to address your allergies. First, make an appointment for an allergy test. Once you know what is causing your allergies, your doctor can prescribe a treatment plan that best suits your needs. This can include anything from over-the-counter medicines to immunotherapy.
If you have an ear infection, your doctor may prescribe medicine to treat it, too.
If you do have sudden hearing loss, make an appointment with your doctor right away. While it may just be an allergic response, it could also be the sign of something much more serious.
Remember, allergies may be a nuisance, especially if they affect your ears, but CEENTAs ENT doctors are here to give you the care you need.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Dr. Kilde practices in our Albemarle office. To make an appointment with him or an ENT doctor near you, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
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