Can Allergies Cause Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

This blog has been reviewed and approved by a hearing healthcare professional.

Allergies are caused by your immune system reacting to a foreign substance in your environment, such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Your immune system views these allergens as a threat to your health and begins to fight them off by releasing antibodies and histamine. This can lead to you experiencing some of the typical allergy symptoms: congestion, sniffling, and a runny nose. Therefore, allergies can lead to allergy-related hearing loss and tinnitus.¹  

Allergies and Hearing Loss

The symptoms of allergies can cause you to experience conductive hearing loss, which occurs when something blocks the sound path to your eardrum or inner ear. In this case, your ear can be clogged with mucus and other fluids shifting in your ear, causing pressure to build in your middle ear which can lead to your hearing being muffled. 

  

To determine the difference between allergy-related hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss it is recommended you have a hearing test done if the muffled sounds do not become clear in a couple of months. Many people discover that they have sensorineural hearing loss after visiting a hearing clinic for a hearing test due to allergies. 

  

It is important to note that allergies do not cause sensorineural hearing loss. The people mentioned above found that they had existing hearing loss, and the allergies exacerbated the issue.  

Effects of Allergies in Different Parts of the Ear

Outer Ear
You may find that your outer ear and ear canal is itchy or swollen. This could be a result of an allergic skin reaction.

 

Middle Ear
Most allergies are likely to affect your middle ear. The Eustachian tube is located in this part of your ear and serves as a drainage tube, similar to a pressure release valve. If the tube is clogged with mucus, and pressure builds in your ear it can make it difficult for you to hear. These are the symptoms of a conductive hearing loss, and the problem is usually temporary. You should find that it resolves itself as the allergic reaction fades.

 

Inner Ear
If you experience Ménière’s disease and allergies, you may find that changes in your hearing are more prevalent when your allergies are at their worst.

 

You can learn more about the parts of your ear and how they process sound here.

Coping with Allergies as a Hearing Aid Wearer

For people who are already experiencing sensorineural hearing loss, temporary conductive hearing loss can interfere with their hearing aids. You should avoid using your hearing aids for prolonged periods during pollen season, as they might worsen any blockages you're experiencing. 

 

You should already be cleaning your hearing aids often, but you should double your cleaning routine during allergy season. If you need a refresher on performing hearing aid maintenance, you can read more about maintenance here.

Allergies and Tinnitus

Seasonal allergies, including hay fever, can cause a variety of symptoms including a feeling of pressure in the ear and the sensation that the ear is clogged. Those who already experience tinnitus may hear louder ringing in their ears or have their tinnitus symptoms worsened. 

Allergies and Your Hearing

While allergy season can be miserable, it can be a serious issue for those with sensitive ears, existing hearing loss, or a tendency towards congestion. Luckily, in most places pollen is only an issue for a few months. If your hearing is concerning you every season of the year, you can schedule a hearing consultation with one of our hearing healthcare professionals.

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1 “Allergies and the Immune System.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/allergies-and-the-immune-system