All year is allergy season in some places. Allergies can range from minor to extreme and can be brought on by anything from pollen to pet dander. Runny nose and itchy eyes are the symptoms people are most familiar with and can be the first indication that you’re dealing with allergies.
But more advanced symptoms, such as poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss often occur. These symptoms are a side effect of added pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why is Your Hearing Impacted by Allergies?
When your body senses an environmental allergen it reacts by discharging a chemical called histamine. The common runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. One less common symptom is fluid build up in your inner and middle ear. The fluid stops the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. This fluid creates pressure that can trigger tinnitus, trouble hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be managed in many different ways. Over-the-counter medications like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are generally the first options. Mild cases can be successfully managed within a couple of days and initial relief usually starts after the first dose. These products are also safe for continued long term use if need be. Other allergy medication can be used short term but aren’t recommended as a long term strategy because of their possible side effects, these medications include Sudafed, Afrin, and Benadryl.
There are also natural solutions that can be utilized on their own or in combination with over-the-counter medications. A Neti pot or saline solutions are some examples. A vapor tablet, in certain situations, when used in a hot shower can be really helpful as well. You can also take steps to change your environment including getting an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every couple of weeks. Make sure you bathe your pets regularly if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.
If None of These Help
For some people over-the-counter and natural solutions won’t be sufficient. When none of these approaches help over the course of several weeks professional help might be required. An allergist will figure out if you are a good candidate for allergy shots. These shots will be given in slowly increasing dosages once a week for up to six months before transitioning to a monthly shot. Small amounts of the allergen will be released into your system letting your body gradually learn how to manage it. Though it only takes around eight months for patients to feel some relief, this treatment will demand a long term commitment of up to five years.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these strategies help, it’s time to get a hearing exam.