The entire year is allergy season in some locations. Allergies can range from mild to extreme and can be caused by everything from pollen to pet dander. Runny nose and itchy eyes are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first sign that you’re suffering from allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, like poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss often occur. These symptoms are a side effect of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why do Allergies Impact Your Hearing?
Your body releases a chemical called histamine when it detects an environmental allergen. This release leads to the familiar sniffles and itchy eye symptoms of allergies. Fluid buildup in the inner ear is a less known symptom. This is how your body stops the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can cause issues with your equilibrium leading to a blocked ear, difficulty hearing, and balance issues.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are lots of ways to manage the symptoms of allergies. The majority of people start with over-the-counter products like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. Mild cases can be effectively managed within a couple of days and initial relief usually begins after the first dose. These products are also safe for extended long term use if necessary. Others, such as Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not suggested for continuous use because they can cause unwanted side effects.
There are also natural approaches that can be used by themselves or in combination 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, particularly when combined with a vapor tablet. Environmental changes, like regularly washing fabrics with hot water, using a damp cloth to reduce dust on surfaces, and using an air purifier can also significantly help. Be sure you give your pets a bath routinely if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.
Already Tried All That?
For some individuals over-the-counter and natural treatments won’t be enough. When none of these approaches help over the course of several weeks professional assistance may be required. 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 changing to a shot once a month. Small amounts of the allergen will be released into your system letting your body gradually learn how to deal 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 methods deliver relief, and you’ve made certain the pressure in your ears isn’t caused by an ear infection, then it is time to get your hearing tested.