All year is allergy season in some locations. Allergies can range from minimal to extreme and can be caused by anything from pet dander to pollen. The first and most familiar signs that you are dealing with allergies are usually a runny nose and itchy eyes.
But more pronounced symptoms, like tinnitus, poor balance, and hearing loss often happen. These symptoms are a side effect of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why is Your Hearing Affected by Allergies?
When your body senses an environmental allergen it responds by discharging a chemical called histamine. The common runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. Fluid accumulation in the inner ear is a less common symptom. The fluid blocks the allergen from getting further into your ear canal. This fluid causes pressure that can lead to tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is disrupted.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be managed in many different ways. Most people begin with over-the-counter products like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. Minor cases can be effectively managed within a couple of days and initial relief normally starts after the first dose. 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 suggested for long term use as they can lead to unwanted side effects.
There are also natural approaches that can be used on their own or combined with over-the-counter medications. These include a Neti pot or saline sprays. In certain cases, even an ordinary hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. You can also take steps to change your environment including getting an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every couple of weeks. If you have pets and struggle with pet dander, make sure you give your pets a bath frequently.
Already Tried All That?
Over-the-counter and natural treatments may not work in some cases. When none of these methods help over the course of a few weeks professional help might be needed. To figure out if you require an allergy shot, you will need to consult an allergist. These shots will be given in slowly increasing dosages once a week for up to six months before switching to a monthly shot. Small amounts of the allergen will be released into your system allowing your body to slowly learn how to handle it. This therapy does demand a long-term commitment of up to five years, however, patients often experience relief beginning at around eight months.
If none of the above strategies provides relief, and you’ve made certain the pressure in your ears isn’t due to an ear infection, then it is time to get your hearing checked.