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How allergies can affect your hearing

November 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
We're all so worried about runny noses and itchy eyes we might not think about what allergies can do to our hearing. And it's especially harmful to people who have ear problems to begin with.Susan Brender doesn't sniffle and sneeze like other allergy sufferers. Instead allergens like pollen, grass and mold have a different effect.

"It gives me a feeling of fullness in my ears. It exacerbates the tinnutis which I have which is a noise in my ear, which is quite horrible," said Brender.

"Susan notes her symptoms when her nasal symptoms are worse, and the inner ear can be a target of an allergic reaction just like the nose can," said Dr. Jennifer Derebery, a physician at the House Ear Institute.

Brender also has Meniere's disease, an abundance of fluid in her inner ear. She came all the way from New Jersey to L.A.'s House Ear Institute because she couldn't find a doctor who understands the connection between hearing loss and seasonal allergies.

"An allergic person with inner ear problems can actually have their hearing dropped, they can develop vertigo attacks with it, they may have nasal congestion with it, their eyes may itch. Allergies are not just relegated to the nose," said Dr. Derebery.

She says if people let the pressure, the ear ringing and the vertigo go for too long it can destroy a person's hearing.

"If you're suspicious or have symptoms, coming in sooner is better than later because there is a point of no return where medications are not going to bring back the hearing," said Dr. Derebery.

Brender is starting a low sodium diet to lower fluid buildup in her ear. Other potential treatments include diuretics, steroids injected into the ear drum and microscopic ear tubes.

"I want my quality of life back, I want to be an active human being who can work and play the way one needs to when life is so short," said Brender.

Experts say the first thing you should do is get a diagnosis because many things can cause fullness in the ears and dizziness.

As for food allergies and the ears, Dr. Derebery says studies show wheat can be a problem.


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