Spring is one of our favorite seasons! The weather is warming up and moving us all outdoors to thaw from the long winter. However, these erratic seasonal changes during Spring can wreck havoc on our allergies, our sinuses and even our hearing.
Pollen means allergies, which means histamines. This means more mucus production which can impact our hearing since the sinuses and ears are connected. Increased sinus pressure can mean more middle ear fluid, which can impact our hearing.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, seasonal allergies affect between 10 and 30 percent of adults in the U.S. and as many as 40 percent of children, which means as many as 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from not only sneezing, itchy eyes and sinus pressure, but ear pressure as well.
The ear pressure we sometimes feel is due to middle ear fluid building up as a result of allergies, barometric pressure changes, or middle ear conditions. This can not only cause a feeling of fullness or pressure, but can also cause conductive hearing loss as a result of sound being prevented from traveling to the cochlea or inner ear.
Another risk of excessive fluid build-up when the Eustachian tubes aren’t functioning properly is ear infections; this fluid build-up provides an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
How to cope with stuffy ears
Over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants might help relieve the problem of middle ear fluid, if it is caused by allergies
Lack of exercise reduces fluid movement, so we recommend low to moderate exercise as a way to combat stuffy ears
A low-sodium diet, or eating fruits and vegetables that act as diuretics—grapes, watermelon, celery, bell peppers and asparagus all offer health benefits that include reducing fluid retention
If you are experiencing continuous pressure in the middle ear, this could eventually result in hearing loss. If you are experiencing any changes in your hearing, see a Doctor of Audiology or otolaryngologist (ENT) to make sure the problem isn’t something more serious.
Moisture could affect your hearing aids
Spring also brings challenges for those with hearing aids, as the rise in allergens and wet weather means paying closer attention to maintenance and upkeep of hearing devices. For example, increased allergens can clog microphone ports in hearing aids, so be sure to clean hearing aids regularly and replace covers of mic ports when necessary.
Along with allergens, Spring is accompanied by heat, humidity, rain and extreme temperature changes. Moisture is the enemy of some older hearing aid models, as it can build up in the tubing, damage the microphone and receiver and cause static. In addition, warm weather means more ear wax build-up, which can clog the sound openings.
4 tips to keep your hearing aids dry & working properly
Many of the hearing technologies we’re fitting today in our Charlotte, NC location are water resistant and aren’t affected by light rains or regular water conditions. However, if your current hearing device is older, make sure your hearing aids stay working properly during wet weather. Our tips:
Wear a hat or use an umbrella when going out in the rain
Dry your hair and ears thoroughly after showering and prior to putting in your hearing aids
Use a hearing aid dehumidifier overnight or anytime your hearing aids are exposed to excess moisture
If you suspect any hearing changes or loss, be sure to see a Doctor of Audiology - especially if your hearing problems persist after allergy season ends.
We want you to enjoy the beautiful sounds of Spring this year, and for years to come!
What are your favorite parts of Spring?
About the author:
Dr. Kurt D. Wright has been helping people hear better for over 20 years. He is the founding audiologist at Manna Audiology Hearing Center, a hearing clinic which services Charlotte, North Carolina and metro area. He earned his Doctor of Audiology Degree (Au.D.) from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Augiology from Kent State University. He has a bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois. Dr. Wright is a member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) as well as a Fellow of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA). The Audiological Resource Association (ARA) honored him as the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Audiologist Award.
Dr. Wright has a passion for helping each Charlotte area patient achieve the best hearing possible.