Reviewed by Dr. Porter on July 5, 2022
There are very few places in the world that match the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. There are mountains, forests, beaches, bays, and access to the ocean. The Puget Sound area is a paradise for everyone who loves the outdoors. But there are few places in the country that are more challenging for people who have seasonal allergies.
The most common offender for allergy sufferers in northwestern Washington State is mold. The combination of constant humidity and mild temperatures makes the area a place where mold easily finds a home. Molds reproduce by sending out millions, even billions, of spores in poorly ventilated places, making mold allergy a year-round problem.
Another major allergen in the Pacific Northwest is ragweed. A single ragweed plant can release as many as a billion grains of pollen over the last 8 to 10 weeks of the growing season, until the first frost finally arrives. Ragweed plants are more common in rural areas than in towns and cities, but their pollen can drift with the wind all over northwestern Washington. Even if you travel across the Cascades to get away from it, you have to deal with the pollen of related plants, such as burweed, rabbit brush, and sagebrush.
But let’s not overlook pollen from grass and trees! Grasses pollinate continuously for five or six months every year, and there is some beautiful tree in the Pacific Northwest pollinating almost every day of the year.
Allergies Can Interfere with Your Hearing
Mold spores and pollen can make you sneeze. They can make you wheeze. They can aggravate your asthma, and they can make your eyes water. Allergies can make your mouth itchy, give you post-nasal drip, interfere with your sense of smell, make you snore, and, if you leave them untreated long enough, give you an overbite, because of too much breathing through your mouth. But they can also interfere with your hearing.
How can you tell if a hearing problem is really an allergy problem? Well, usually, hearing issues won’t be the only symptoms of your allergy. But beyond that:
- Allergies can give you the symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction. These include popping in the ears, inability to adjust to changes in altitude, feeling full in the ears, loss of your sense of balance, and ringing in the ears.
- Allergies can cause serious inflammation in the middle of your ear, a kind of non-infectious otitis media. Symptoms of allergy in your middle ear overlap many of the symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction, plus ear pain and drainage from your ear.
Sometimes, the only serious symptom of allergy in your ears is hearing loss. Treating allergies with over the counter or prescription medications may help. So, close your windows at night to keep pollen out, or be very careful to keep up with your vacuuming if you have indoor pets.
If simple measures for allergy control work, great! But the hearing specialists and audiologists at Harbor Audiology recommend that you get any hearing loss checked out by a professional.
Why You Need to Get “Allergy-Related” Hearing Loss Checked Out by an Audiologist
There are two reasons you need to get any kind of hearing loss, even if it seems to be caused by allergies, looked at by an audiologist.
One reason is that your symptoms may actually be caused by a different condition. You don’t want to let a treatable condition progress to the point that curing it is difficult. And you don’t want to have to deal with the side effects of antihistamines if they aren’t going to help.
The other reason to have a professional audiologist look at your hearing loss is that it is possible to have both ear allergies and another condition. Treating just your allergies is not going to give you the best hearing possible.
And, if you wear hearing aids, there are additional considerations.
If you got your hearing aids at Harbor Audiology, you got a good fit. But the wrong size of hearing aid can trap moisture in your ear canal. Just like the humidity in the air west of the Cascades, trapped humidity in your ear provides the equivalent of rocket fuel for the growth of fungus. An ill-fitting hearing aid can become the platform for growing fungus in your ear and trapping the spores that cause allergy inside.
Your audiologist can provide you with an inexpensive kit for keeping your hearing aids clean. Trapped wax and cerumen, as well as other debris from your ear canal, feed bacteria. Microorganisms in your ear can cause both infections and allergies.
Let Harbor Audiology Help You with Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Don’t leave good hearing to chance. Let the professional audiologists and hearing specialists at Harbor Audiology diagnose your hearing issues and give you the interventions that will make a difference.
Harbor Audiology works with all kinds of insurance. We have offices at locations all around Puget Sound, and we can work with you to accommodate your schedule.
Whether you are in Bainbridge Island, Gig Harbor, Omak, Port Angeles, Sequim, Silverdale, Tacoma, or Wenatchee. Harbor Audiology has an office near you. Drop us a line with our online contact form, or see our Contact Us page for telephone numbers and office addresses. Our professional audiologists and hearing specialists are dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain the best hearing possible.
Categorised in: Seasonal Allergies