What is Seasonal Hearing Loss?
Now that the weather has warmed up and spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, grasses are going to seed and that means something else is in the air: pollen! Seasonal hearing loss is caused by the symptoms of hay fever. The dreaded hay fever season usually occurs from spring to summer. Winds can bring pollen in from other areas and depending on wind direction the pollen types can vary. Nonnative species of grass, trees and flowering plants cause more allergies than native plants.
A lot of Australians have an allergy to pollen that sets them of with bouts of sneezing, wheezing, sniffing, runny itchy eyes and ears or worse; an asthma attack. For some people this allergy can be so bad, they need to seek medical intervention and take time off work to recover.
What has hearing loss got to do with seasons?
Our immune system battles pollen allergens with chemicals called histamines. The release of histamines is what causes the symptoms of hay fever. In turn the membrane lining of the eustachian tube can become inflamed, causing a blocked ear sensation.
The result is temporary hearing loss from swelling and excessive mucous build up in the thin membrane of the eustachian tube. This blockage prevents drainage of the middle ear, meaning sound can no longer reach the tiny bones in the middle ear. This is often referred to as conductive hearing loss.
This blockage may cause feelings of dizziness and vertigo. Mucous buildup in the middle ear can be a breeding ground for bacteria and result in an ear infection.
Some of us can get allergy related tinnitus which can be a constant mild hissing to high pitched squealing in our ears. Tinnitus can affect our sleep patterns, worsen our mood, or interfere with our ability to hear at work.
This should be temporary, however if it is really bothersome and continues for longer than a few weeks, you should consult an audiologist for a hearing health check.
If you would like to know more about tinnitus counselling we have written an in depth article which you can read here.
What you can do to lessen the effects of hay fever
Pollen count is highest in the morning and evening so avoiding grassy areas and flowering gardens during these times will help. To prevent pollen entering your home or car, keep the doors and windows closed. Avoid drying washing on the outside line as pollen gets into the fibres your clothes. Having a shower and washing your hair when you get home will prevent you from carrying the pollen around your home. If you can, avoid mowing the lawn, or wear a filter mask if you must. Keep your windows closed while mowing to stop the allergens entering the house.
To relieve the sensation of blocked ears, pinch your nose and close your mouth and blow until your ears pop. This may even the pressure between both ears.
Foods that help alleviate seasonal hearing loss
- Pineapple – contains the enzyme called bromelain that can alleviate allergic reactions.
- Fish – Omega-3 fatty acid reduces inflammation. Two servings per week of oily fish lowers the reaction to pollens.
- Kiwi fruit – rich in vitamin C, kiwi can also reduce histamine production in the body.
- Onions, peppers, berries and parsley – contain quercetin that lessen the reaction to histamine.
- Yoghurt and sauerkraut – fermented foods contain probiotics which are good for the gut and prevent allergy reactions.
- Honey – raw and local honey taken at the start of hay fever season may help to build tolerance to local pollens.
- Turmeric – an anti-inflammatory that helps to prevent the release of histamine.
The important message is don’t neglect hearing loss.
Allergy related hearing loss should be short term and can be treated with over the counter anti histamines tablets, drops and nasal sprays. There are ear drops available from most chemists that work to dissolve wax build up in the ears.
If you continue to have symptoms after the allergic reaction has passed you should see your doctor, and if hearing loss is still an issue, contact an audiologist as soon as possible. The earlier you intervene the more positive the outcome for you.
The Hearing Cub
The Hearing Club is a local and independent hearing service provider. Our aim is to assist the hearing impaired to achieve the greatest enjoyment from life.
If you are suffering from seasonal hearing loss, we can give you a hearing health check-up to make sure there are no other underlying complications. We can help by unblocking wax build up in your ears and conduct a hearing test to determine your level of loss.
There is no need to suffer out the pollen season without professional help.
To make an appointment with one of our professional staff please call 1800 627 728. To find a clinic near you, contact us online today.
- AVogel – Hayfever and Blocked Ears
- WebMD – 6 Foods That May Help Curb Your Allergies
- BT – 10 allergy fighting foods to help you beat hay fever
- Signia USA – Allergy or Sudden Hearing Loss—Can You Tell the Difference?
- Sound Relief Hearing Centre – Do Allergies Cause Hearing Loss or Tinnitus?
- National Hearing Care – Hay Fever and Pollen Allergy
- WebMD – What Are Histamines?