Hearing Loss Treatment in Denver, CO
We know how frustrating hearing loss can be. The expert doctors at Advanced ENT can determine if your hearing loss is connected to allergy, sinus issues, or ear wax issues and help determine the best treatment for the underlying cause of your symptoms. Find relief from swelling, pain and hearing loss with our specialists.
Can Allergies Cause Hearing Loss?
Your body’s immune system responds to allergens by producing histamine antibodies, which are the cause of allergy symptoms like itchiness, runny or stuffy nose, and inflammation. All of your senses are connected, so when you experience swelling and congestion in the nose, throat and sinuses, your ears can also be affected. The excess mucus production that occurs when histamines are activated can cause a feeling of pressure or clogging in the ear. Other symptoms of ear or hearing issues stemming from allergies include:
- Vertigo or balance issues
- Mild hearing loss or muffled hearing
The symptoms above can mean that the Eustachian tube, the drainage passage for the middle ear, is blocked or obstructed. Since the middle ear amplifies and transfers sound between the inner and outer ear, any inflammation or blockage there can interfere with your hearing.
Can Sinus Issues Cause Hearing Loss?
When the sinuses become inflamed, either from infection or other nasal issues, they can affect your hearing too. Swollen sinuses cause the glands between your nose and eyes to create more mucus than usual, which can block nasal and sinus pathways from draining properly. Your sinuses and ear canal are very close together, so the blockage in your sinuses can cause the Eustachian tube to become inflamed and filled with fluid, leading to pressure on the eardrum. This inner ear pressure can lead to symptoms such as:
- Mild hearing loss or muffled hearing
- Vertigo or balance issues
If you are having difficulty hearing because of sinusitis, infection, or other sinus issues, sounds may sound muffled or distant, as if heard underwater or through a tunnel. Irregular pressure or inflammation can even affect your equilibrium causing issues with balance or walking.
Types of Sinus & Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss that stems from sinus and allergy issues can manifest in different ways. Conductive hearing loss is the most common condition, but congestion or fullness and tinnitus are also types of hearing loss associated with sinus and allergy problems.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This temporary condition occurs when an element like mucus or earwax prevents the sound waves from flowing freely through the outer, middle and inner ear. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by allergies or sinusitis, so if you treat these issues and clear up your allergies or infection, but still have difficulty hearing, you should see a hearing specialist.
Fullness or Congestion
Dull pain and pressure can result from the congestion or fullness that occurs as glands produce excess fluid that is unable to drain. When this fluid presses on the eardrum, it causes discomfort and makes it more difficult to hear. In most cases, the discomfort will decrease and dissipate within a few days to a week, but if sharp or acute pain occurs, you should see a doctor immediately as this could be a sign of an ear infection.
Allergies and sinus issues can occasionally cause temporary tinnitus – a rushing, humming, or ringing sound that you may be able to hear even if there is no external noise causing it. Tinnitus is not a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying cause such as hearing loss, ear injury, or nervous system disorders. However, when this ringing or rushing sound is associated with other symptoms of allergy or sinus issues like swelling, itching, congestion or sneezing, it is usually temporary tinnitus resulting from the inflammation and fluid.
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How Do Allergies or Sinus Issues Affect my Hearing?
The human ear has three key sections – Outer, Middle, and Inner – which can all be affected by allergies or sinusitis.
Outer ear: Allergic reactions can cause itching and swelling of both the outer ear and ear canal. Some individuals may be allergic to skin reactants like laundry detergent, pets, fragrances or earrings. Others may experience symptoms because of airborne allergies that cause outer ear inflammation such as hay, pollen, mold or dust. Swelling of the outer ear can make it difficult for sounds to make it to your middle and inner ear.
Middle ear: The Eustachian tube is located in your middle ear, so if swelling occurs here from allergies or infection, it is very difficult for fluid in your ears to drain properly. This can cause fluid buildup and a feeling of unwanted pressure, which gives you the feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear and also creates a breeding ground for bacteria. It also means the sounds coming into your ear are becoming muffled and lost, not clearly traveling to your inner ear. Problems with the middle ear can also affect our equilibrium, so balance problems such as vertigo can occur if inflamed.
Inner ear: People with specific inner ear issues such as Ménière’s disease can be particularly affected by hearing loss due to allergies or sinus infection.
How to Treat Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Remember – Never attempt to scratch an ear itch by putting something inside your ear canal such as a hair pin or cotton swab. Instead, if you experience itchiness the best way to treat it is to wipe your outer ear gently with a warm, damp washcloth and dry it thoroughly.
A specialized Ear Nose and Throat doctor will be able to diagnose whether your hearing issues are being caused by allergies. If this is the case, there are several different ways to treat the root allergies causing ear issues. You will likely conduct an allergy test to determine your specific allergies, and the suggested treatment from your doctor will depend on the type and severity of your allergies.
Over the counter antihistamines can counteract the body’s reaction to an allergen and relieve symptoms temporarily, reducing swelling and potentially alleviating hearing loss for a short time. This can be an effective approach for seasonal or temporary allergies but requires taking oral pills every day and can lose its effectiveness over time.
Allergy Drops or Shots
The best way to cure allergy-caused hearing loss, especially for year-round allergies, is to use allergy drops or shots which are designed to counteract your specific allergies. Allergy shots require frequent visits to a doctor’s office to be completed, but sublingual immunotherapy shots – also called allergy drops – can be used daily at home with only annual office visits to ensure effectiveness. Allergy drops are just as effective as shots, and can even diminish or eliminate your allergies over time. When your allergies no longer cause inflammation and congestion, you also treat the hearing loss symptoms that are caused by this swelling.
How to Treat Sinus-Related Hearing Loss
When sinus issues cause your hearing loss, you need to treat the root of the problem in order to relieve the symptoms. The source of your sinus issues may be infection or sinusitis, or may be a less common problem such as enlarged turbinates or nasal polyps. The best course of treatment for your hearing loss will depend on the reason your sinuses are swollen or congested. An experienced ENT Doctor can help you determine the cause and treatment plan for hearing loss caused by sinus problems.
If the cause of your hearing loss is sinusitis, medications like antihistamines, analgesics and decongestants can decrease swelling and reduce allergy reactions to help temporarily alleviate symptoms like hearing loss. Unfortunately, antibiotics are not usually effective to help clear sinus infections since symptoms often return as soon as a round of antibiotics is complete. Oral steroid medications can sometimes be prescribed as well.
The most effective long-term treatment for your sinus issues and hearing loss symptoms is a fast, easy procedure called a FESS or Sinuplasty. This procedure involves opening and enlarging the sinuses, allowing the infection or fluid to drain. This can help eliminate many sinus issues and symptoms, including hearing loss caused by sinusitis.
This procedure can be performed very comfortably in our office without general anesthetic, and allows you to be back to work in 2-3 days. There is very little post-operative pain and in most cases, this procedure can keep sinus issues from ever returning.
While it may not treat the underlying cause of the issue, steam inhalation can be helpful to relieve nasal congestion. Breathing deeply through the nose in a hot shower or over a steaming bowl of water can loosen thick or hardened mucus blocking the sinuses, which can ease swelling and alleviate symptoms like hearing loss temporarily.
Sometimes, even if sinusitis or other sinus and nasal problems are causing your difficulty hearing, allergies could still truly be at the root of all these issues. Consider getting an allergy test or discussing potential allergies with an ENT specialist to determine if this could be an underlying cause.
Treat Your Hearing Loss with Our Experts
Hearing loss can be annoying, frustrating, and even scary. An experienced ENT specialist at Advanced ENT & Allergy Center can help you get your life and hearing back. We will determine the diagnosis and create an ideal treatment plan to fit your lifestyle, guiding you through every step. Find relief from your symptoms, hear better, and work with an expert doctor whether you’re at home or in our office.