Depending on where you’re located, all year can be allergy season. Allergies can range from minor to acute and can be caused by anything from pollen to pet dander. The first and most common signs that you are dealing with allergies are commonly a runny nose and itchy eyes.
But more pronounced symptoms, including tinnitus, bad balance, and hearing loss often occur. These symptoms are a side effect of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why do Allergies Impact Your Hearing?
When your body detects an environmental allergen it reacts by releasing a chemical called histamine. The common runny nose and itchy eyes are the result of this release. Fluid accumulation in the inner ear is a less known symptom. The fluid stops the allergen from getting further into your ear canal. This fluid produces pressure that can trigger tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are lots of ways to deal with the symptoms of allergies. Most people start with over-the-counter medicines like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. These products are used to treat minor conditions and can start working in as little as one dose with the full effect appearing after a few days of use. These products are also safe for continued long term use if need be. Other allergy medication can be used short term but aren’t suggested 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 certain cases, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. You can also take steps to change your environment like purchasing an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics with hot water every two weeks. If you have pets and have trouble with pet dander, make sure you give your pets a bath regularly.
Already Tried All That?
For some individuals over-the-counter and natural solutions won’t be sufficient. When none of these approaches help over the course of a few weeks professional help may be required. An allergist will determine 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 introduced into your system letting your body gradually learn how to deal with it. This approach does require a long-term commitment of up to five years, however, patients tend to experience relief starting at about eight months.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these strategies help, it’s time to have a hearing test.