Depending on where you live, allergy season can be all year long. Allergies can range from minor to acute and can be triggered by anything from pet dander to pollen. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first indication that you’re suffering from allergies.
But more advanced symptoms, like poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss sometimes occur. These symptoms occur because of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why is Your Hearing Impacted by Allergies?
Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it senses an environmental allergen. This release leads to the familiar itchy eye symptoms and sniffles of allergies. One less prevalent symptom is fluid build up in your inner and middle ear. The fluid stops the allergen from going deeper into your ear canal. This fluid creates pressure that can trigger tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are many ways to manage the symptoms of allergies. The majority of people begin with over-the-counter medicines like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. Mild cases can be effectively treated within a couple of days and initial relief typically begins after the first dose. Extended use of these medicines is also safe. Other allergy medication can be used short term but aren’t recommended as a long term solution because of their possible side effects, these medications include Sudafed, Afrin, and Benadryl.
There are also natural solutions that can be utilized by themselves or combined with over-the-counter medications. A Neti pot or saline solutions are some examples. In some cases, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. Environmental changes, such as regularly washing fabrics in hot water, using a damp cloth to reduce dust on surfaces, and running an air purifier can also significantly help. If you have pets and have a problem with pet dander, make sure you bathe your pet regularly.
When Nothing Else Works
Over-the-counter and natural remedies might not work in some situations. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of several weeks and you aren’t having any relief it might be time to get professional advice. An allergist will determine 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. Small amounts of the allergen will be introduced into your system allowing your body to progressively learn how to deal with it. Even though it only takes about eight months for patients to feel some relief, this therapy will require a long term commitment of up to five years.
If none of the above methods provides relief, and you’ve made certain the pressure in your ears isn’t due to an ear infection, then it is time to get your hearing checked.