Spring can be a beautiful time of year with snow melting, flowers blooming and the promise of summer on the wind, but if you’re sniffling and sneezing and trying to get your ears to pop or stop itching while reading this, you may also be familiar with the not so beautiful part of Spring. Allergy season.
What are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies, or hay fever, can happen at any time during the year. However, it’s often more common during Spring, because so many plants begin to bloom again after the long winter. As they grow and bloom, they release pollen into the air that can cause your immune system to kick into high gear. When it does, histamines are released into the body to help fight the pollen (which our immune systems identify as a threat). These histamines, in turn, create all the seasonal allergy symptoms we’re so familiar with to try and rid the body of the pollen. Thanks, immune system!
Seasonal allergies and your ears
There are many seasonal allergy symptoms beyond the basic sniffling and sneezing we often think of, including:
Watery and itchy eyes
Allergies can also have a severe impact on your ears especially. All the extra mucus that is produced as a result of the histamines flooding the body fills the sinuses. The sinus cavities are connected to the ears, and this buildup can cause pressure to grow in both. Not only that but as the body reacts to the pollen, the Eustachian tubes in the ear can swell and clog. It’s this that often leads to ears that feel “full,” as if they have water in them. This can lead to some temporary hearing loss when sound waves are blocked as they come in.
In some cases, this build-up of fluid in the ear due to seasonal allergies also creates an ideal environment for bacteria which can lead to ear infections.
What you can do about seasonal allergies
If you are experiencing seasonal allergies and the buildup of pressure, sneezing and other symptoms they can cause, there are ways to reduce your symptoms:
Consider a decongestant to help minimize the buildup of mucus in the sinuses and fluid in the ear. This helps prevent headaches, pressure and ear infections.
Amp up your cleaning routine – It’s more important than ever to keep up a regular cleaning schedule at home to keep pollen out of the house and away from your immune system.
Don’t invite pollen in – Keep doors and windows closed and leave shoes outside to limit the amount of pollen coming inside the house to begin with.
Watch pollen counts – Finding the pollen counts online or on the news can help you limit your exposure when the count is high or be proactive with an early antihistamine.
Consider talking with an ENT – Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) providers, also known as otolaryngologists, can recommend additional options to reduce the impact of seasonal allergies.
Don’t let allergy season get the better of you and your ears. These tips can help you reduce your exposure and the impact on your life. If you believe the fluid in your ear has turned into an ear infection or you are experiencing a sudden loss of hearing, contact your physician or our office.
If you have questions about allergy season and your ears (or other seasonal allergy symptoms), contact our office to make an appointment today.