The entire year is allergy season in some places. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can vary from a slight annoyance to a daily battle that affects your quality of life. Runny nose and itchy eyes are the symptoms people are most familiar with and can be the first sign that you’re dealing with allergies.
But more advanced symptoms, like poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss sometimes occur. Added pressure in the inner and middle ear is the reason for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Affect Your Hearing?
Your body releases a chemical called histamine when it senses an environmental allergen. The common runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. One less prevalent symptom is the buildup of fluid in your middle and inner ear. This is how your body stops the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. This fluid causes 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
There are lots of ways to manage the symptoms of allergies. Over-the-counter medications like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are normally 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. Extended use of these products is also safe. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not advised for long term use as they can result in unwanted side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural solutions or the natural options can in some cases even be utilized by themselves. Saline solutions or a Neti pot are some examples. A vapor tablet, in some situations, when used in a hot shower can be very helpful also. You can also make changes to your environment such as buying an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics with hot water every couple of weeks. If you have pets and have trouble with pet dander, be sure to bathe your pet frequently.
Already Tried All That?
For some people over-the-counter and natural treatments won’t be sufficient. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of a few weeks and you’re not having any relief it may be time to seek professional help. An allergist will figure out if you are a good candidate for allergy shots. These shots will be delivered in slowly increasing doses once a week for up to six months before transitioning to a shot once a month. Small amounts of the allergen will be introduced into your system letting your body slowly learn how to deal with it. Even though it only takes around eight months for patients to experience some relief, this therapy 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 test.