Springtime means getting to enjoy evening thunderstorms and beautiful flowers, but for many, it also means seasonal allergy symptoms. For some, this can result in pain or discomfort involving the ears. We review how spring allergies can affect the ears below.
Hay Fever Can Cause Stuffy Ears
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that more than 50 million Americans experience allergies at some point during the year, with spring allergies being the most common. This type of allergy, known as hay fever, is caused by exposure to mold spores and pollenating trees, grasses and weeds.
Allergies are the result of your immune system overreacting to a foreign substance that is normally harmless. During this overreaction, the chemical histamine is produced, which is what is responsible for your allergy symptoms, including increased mucus production and inflammation.
This inflammation can affect your Eustachian tubes – the passageways connecting your middle ears to your throat. These tubes are responsible for allowing fluids to drain. When the tubes are swollen, fluid becomes trapped, leading to a plugged or stuff-up feeling in the ears.
Hay Fever Can Cause Fullness in the Ears
The inner ears contain fluid that is sensitive to barometric pressure changes. You’re probably aware of this is you’ve ever taken off from Charleston International Airport, driven through the mountains or gone scuba diving. The popping sensation you feel is the result of the pressure outside your ears dropping while the pressure in your ears stays the same.
In addition to draining fluids, your Eustachian tubes are responsible for regulating pressure changes. When seasonal allergies cause the Eustachian tubes to swell, it makes this job difficult, causing a feeling of fullness in the ear.
Meniere’s disease is an inner ear condition related to too much fluid in the inner ear, which triggers episodes of hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It’s common for people with this condition to experience increased or worse episodes in the springtime if they have allergies. To learn more about how spring allergies can affect your ears or to schedule an appointment with an ear or allergy expert, call ENT & Allergy Partners today.