All year is allergy season in some places. From pollen to pet dander, allergies can vary from a minor annoyance to a daily battle that impacts your quality of life. The first and most familiar indications that you are dealing with allergies are normally a runny nose and itchy eyes.
But more advanced symptoms, such as poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss often occur. Added pressure in the middle and inner ear is the reason for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Affect Your Hearing?
When your body detects an environmental allergen it reacts by discharging a chemical called histamine. This release results in the familiar sniffles and itchy eye symptoms of allergies. Fluid buildup in the inner ear is a less common symptom. 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 blocked ear, trouble hearing, and balance issues.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are numerous ways to manage the symptoms of allergies. The majority of people start with over-the-counter products like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. These medicines are used to manage minor conditions and can start working in as little as one dose with the maximum effect manifesting after a few days of use. These products are also safe for extended long term use if need be. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not advised for long term use as they can cause undesirable side effects.
There are also natural solutions that can be utilized by themselves or in combination with over-the-counter medications. These include saline sprays or a Neti pot. In certain cases, even an ordinary hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. You can also make changes to your environment like purchasing an air purifier, cleaning 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 regularly.
If None of These Works
Over-the-counter and natural solutions may not work in some situations. If you’ve tried these approaches over the course of a few weeks and you’re not experiencing any relief it may be time to seek professional help. 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 shot once a month. These shots work by releasing a small amount of allergen into your system which enables your body to learn how to cope with it. Though it only takes about eight months for patients to experience some relief, this treatment will require a long term commitment of as much as five years.
If none of the above approaches 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.