All year is allergy season in some places. From pollen to pet dander, allergies can range from a minor aggravation to a daily battle that impacts your quality of life. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms people are most familiar with and can be the first sign that you’re experiencing allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, including tinnitus, bad balance, and hearing loss sometimes occur. Increased pressure in the middle and inner ear is the reason for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Affect Your Hearing?
When your body senses an environmental allergen it reacts by expelling a chemical called histamine. The common runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. Fluid buildup in the inner ear is a less common symptom. The fluid stops the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. This fluid causes pressure that can trigger tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is disrupted.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be managed in many different ways. Most people begin with over-the-counter medicines like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. Mild cases can be successfully managed within a couple of days and initial relief normally starts after the first dose. These products are also safe for extended long term use if needed. Other allergy medication can be used temporarily but aren’t suggested as a long term strategy because of their potential side effects, these medications include Sudafed, Afrin, and Benadryl.
There are also natural solutions that can be used on their own or in combination with over-the-counter medications. Saline solutions or a Neti pot are some examples. In certain situations, even an ordinary hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when paired with a vapor tablet. You can also make changes to your environment including purchasing an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics with hot water every two weeks. Be sure you give your pets a bath frequently if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.
When Nothing Else Works
Over-the-counter and natural solutions might not work in some cases. If you’ve tried these solutions over the course of a few weeks and you’re not experiencing any relief it could be time to seek professional help. An allergist will determine if you are a good fit for allergy shots. Every week for about six months a shot will be given in increasing doses then the shots will be decreased to one every month. These shots work by releasing a small amount of allergen into your system which allows your body to learn how to cope with it. Although it only takes around eight months for patients to feel some relief, this treatment will require a long term commitment of up to five years.
If none of the above methods deliver relief, and you’ve made sure the pressure in your ears isn’t caused by an ear infection, then it is time to have your hearing checked.