Spring allergies and weather changes

  Posted March 19, 2019

The inner ear is filled with fluid, and that fluid is extremely sensitive to the sudden changes in barometric pressure that occur in springtime. When the barometric pressure drops rapidly, that means the pressure outside your ears goes down before the pressure inside your ears can acclimate. The result is a pressure imbalance, which can cause a sensation of fullness or popping in the ears. Seasonal allergies exacerbate the problem by causing a narrowing of the Eustachian tube, making equalisation of pressure even more difficult.

Allergies are another unwanted accompaniment to spring. While most think of allergies as sneezing and sinus pressure, it is important to remember that the ears and sinuses are interconnected.

Antibodies release a substance called histamine, which leads to increased mucus production. Unfortunately allergies also cause swelling of the Eustachian tubes, meaning they don’t open as they should. This causes the Eustachian tubes to become clogged with the excess fluid and wax, and the result is a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears that can negatively affect hearing.

Over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants might help relieve the problem of excess fluid if it is caused by allergies. Some other remedies that can reduce fluid build-up include exercising, eating 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. Since continuous pressure in the middle ear could result in permanent hearing loss, if you are experiencing any changes in hearing be sure to see a hearing healthcare professional.

The excess fluid build-up as a result of allergies, barometric pressure changes or inner ear conditions 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. Another risk of excessive fluid build-up when the Eustachian tubes aren’t functioning properly is ear infections; the increased fluid provides an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.

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