All year is allergy season in some places. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can range from a minor aggravation to a daily struggle that affects your quality of life. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first sign that you’re experiencing allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, including poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss often happen. Increased pressure in the inner and middle ear are responsible for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Impact Your Hearing?
Your body releases a chemical called histamine when it detects an environmental allergen. The familiar runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. One less prevalent symptom is fluid build up 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 lead to tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are many ways to deal with the symptoms of allergies. Over-the-counter medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are usually the first options. Minor cases can be successfully managed within a couple of days and initial relief normally starts after the first dose. These products are also safe for continued long term use if needed. Others, such as Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used short term for relief, but are not recommended for continuous use because they can lead to undesirable side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural remedies or the natural options can sometimes even be used by themselves. These include saline sprays or a Neti pot. A vapor tablet, in certain situations, when used in a hot shower can be very helpful also. Environmental changes, including regularly washing fabrics with hot water, using a damp cloth to minimize dust on surfaces, and using an air purifier can also go a long way. If you have pets and have a problem with pet dander, be sure to bathe your pet frequently.
When Nothing Else Helps
Over-the-counter and natural solutions may not work in some circumstances. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of a few weeks and you’re not experiencing any relief it could be time to seek professional assistance. An allergist will determine 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 monthly shot. These shots work by introducing a small bit of allergen into your system which allows your body to learn how to deal with it. This treatment does demand a long-term commitment of up to five years, however, patients tend to feel relief starting at about eight months.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these methods help, it’s time to have a hearing test.