The entire year is allergy season in some locations. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can vary from a slight aggravation to a daily battle that affects your quality of life. The first and most common indications that you are dealing with allergies are normally itchy eyes and a runny nose.
But more pronounced symptoms, like tinnitus, bad balance, and hearing loss often happen. 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 responds by discharging a chemical called histamine. This release causes the familiar itchy eye symptoms and sniffles of allergies. Fluid accumulation in the inner ear is a less known symptom. The fluid stops the allergen from getting further into your ear canal. This fluid creates pressure that can trigger tinnitus, trouble hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is disrupted.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are lots of ways to treat the symptoms of allergies. Over-the-counter medications like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are generally the first solution. These medicines are used to treat mild cases and can start working in as little as one dose with the maximum effect appearing after a few days of use. Extended use of these medicines is also safe. Others, such as Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not advised for continuous use as they can cause undesirable side effects.
There are also natural approaches that can be used on their own or combined with over-the-counter medications. These include saline sprays or a Neti pot. In certain situations, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. You can also make changes to your environment such as getting 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, make sure you give your pets a bath regularly.
When Nothing Else Works
For some individuals over-the-counter and natural remedies won’t be enough. If you’ve tried these solutions over the course of a few weeks and you’re not experiencing any relief it may be time to get professional help. An allergist will determine if you are a good candidate for allergy shots. Every week for around six months a shot will be given in increasing dosages then the shots will be reduced to one every month. These shots work by introducing a small amount of allergen into your system which enables your body to learn how to deal with it. Even though it only takes around eight months for patients to experience some relief, this treatment will require a long term commitment of as much as five years.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these methods help, it’s time to have a hearing exam.