The entire year is allergy season in some locations. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can range from a minor inconvenience to a daily battle that affects your quality of life. Runny nose and itchy eyes are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first indication that you’re dealing with allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, including poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss sometimes occur. Added pressure in the inner and middle ear are responsible for these symptoms.
Why is Your Hearing Impacted by Allergies?
When your body detects an environmental allergen it responds by expelling a chemical called histamine. The familiar runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. Fluid accumulation in the inner ear is a less known symptom. This is how your body stops the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. This fluid causes pressure that can lead to tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be treated in several different ways. Over-the-counter medications such as Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are normally the first solution. These products are used to treat mild cases and can start working in as little as one dose with the full effect appearing after a few days of use. Long term use of these products is also safe. Others, such as Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used short term for relief, but are not suggested for extended use because they can lead to unwanted side effects.
There are also natural approaches that can be utilized on their own or in combination with over-the-counter remedies. A Neti pot or saline solutions are some examples. A vapor tablet, in some scenarios, when used in a hot shower can be very helpful also. You can also take steps to change your environment including getting an air purifier, cleaning dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every two weeks. If you have pets and have trouble with pet dander, make sure you give your pets a bath frequently.
When Nothing Else Works
For some people over-the-counter and natural solutions won’t be sufficient. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of a few weeks and you aren’t having any relief it could be time to seek professional advice. An allergist will decide if you are a good fit for allergy shots. These shots will be given in slowly increasing dosages once a week for up to six months before switching to a shot once a month. These shots work by introducing a small bit of allergen into your system which enables your body to learn how to deal with it. This treatment does require a long-term commitment of up to five years, however, patients often experience relief beginning at around eight months.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these methods help, it’s time to have a hearing exam.