All year is allergy season in some locations. Allergies can range from minor to extreme and can be caused by anything from pet dander to pollen. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms people are most familiar with and can be the first sign that you’re suffering from allergies.
However, some will undergo advanced symptoms like hearing loss, bad balance, and tinnitus. These symptoms are a side effect 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 expelling a chemical called histamine. This release leads to the familiar itchy eye symptoms and sniffles of allergies. One less prevalent symptom is the buildup of fluid in your middle and inner ear. The fluid blocks the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can cause problems with your equilibrium leading to a blocked ear, difficulty hearing, and balance issues.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be managed in several different ways. Over-the-counter medications like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are typically the first solution. These medicines are used to treat mild 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 extended long term use if need be. 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.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural treatments or the natural remedies can in some cases even be utilized by themselves. These include a Neti pot or saline sprays. In certain situations, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, particularly when paired with a vapor tablet. You can also take steps to change your environment including getting 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 a problem with pet dander, be sure to bathe your pet regularly.
If None of These Works
For some individuals over-the-counter and natural treatments won’t be enough. If you’ve tried these approaches over the course of several weeks and you aren’t having any relief it may be time to seek professional advice. To find out if you require an allergy shot, you will need to consult an allergist. These shots will be delivered in slowly increasing dosages once a week for up to six months before changing to a monthly shot. Small amounts of the allergen will be introduced into your system allowing your body to gradually learn how to handle it. Though it only takes around eight months for patients to feel some relief, this therapy will require a long term commitment of as much as five years.
If none of the above methods provides relief, and you’ve made certain the pressure in your ears isn’t caused by an ear infection, then it is time to have your hearing tested.