Depending on where you’re located, allergy season can be all year long. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can range from a minor aggravation 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 sign that you’re dealing with allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, including tinnitus, bad balance, and hearing loss sometimes happen. These symptoms occur because of added 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 familiar itchy eyes and runny nose are the outcomes of this release. One less prevalent symptom is fluid build up in your middle and inner ear. This is how your body stops the allergen from working its way deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can result in problems with your equilibrium leading to a clogged ear, trouble hearing, and balance issues.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are numerous ways to treat the symptoms of allergies. Over-the-counter medications like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are generally the first solution. Minor cases can be effectively treated within a couple of days and initial relief typically starts after the first dose. These products are also safe for prolonged long term use if needed. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not advised for long term use as they can cause unwanted side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural treatments or the natural options can in some cases even be used by themselves. 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 also. You can also make changes to your environment such as buying 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, be sure to bathe your pet frequently.
When Nothing Else Works
For some individuals over-the-counter and natural treatments won’t be enough. When none of these methods help over the course of a few weeks professional help might be needed. An allergist will decide 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 reduced to once a month. These shots work by introducing a small bit of allergen into your system which allows your body to learn how to cope with it. Even though it only takes around eight months for patients to experience some relief, this therapy will require a long term commitment of up to five years.
If none of the above strategies deliver relief, and you’ve made sure the pressure in your ears isn’t due to an ear infection, then it is time to have your hearing checked.