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Can seasonal allergies cause muffled hearing? Yep!

If you think your hearing gets worse when your seasonal allergies flare up (they've been supercharged this year all across the country), there's a good chance you're right, even if it sounds a bit far-fetched.

For some people, allergies can cause a swelling in the Eustachian tubes in the inner ear (they help regulate ear pressure and drain excess fluid from the middle ear). That results in muted sounds, echoes, itchiness, even balance problems and tinnitus. If the problem persists and fluid builds up in the middle ear, you can develop an infection. The good news is that if your hearing problem is due to allergies, it's probably temporary and can be remedied.

Here's what to do: There are many over-the-counter medications that help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. But if you're taking other medications or supplements, or have high blood pressure, check with your doc to make sure there are no contraindications. If your hearing doesn't come back loud and clear, see your primary care doctor to rule out infection as the cause, and perhaps an audiologist for a hearing test. Remember, hearing is important to long-term cognitive functioning.

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