The entire year is allergy season in some locations. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can range from a minor annoyance to a daily battle that affects your quality of life. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first indication that you’re suffering from allergies.
But more advanced symptoms, such as poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss sometimes occur. Increased pressure in the middle and inner ear are responsible for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Impact Your Hearing?
When your body detects an environmental allergen it responds by expelling a chemical called histamine. This release causes the familiar sniffles and itchy eye symptoms of allergies. One less common symptom is fluid build up in your inner and middle ear. The fluid blocks the allergen from getting deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can result in problems with your equilibrium leading to a blocked ear, difficulty hearing, and balance issues.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are many ways to treat the symptoms of allergies. Over-the-counter medications like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are usually the first solution. Minor cases can be successfully managed within a couple of days and initial relief usually begins after the first dose. Long term use of these products is also safe. Other allergy medication can be used short term but aren’t suggested as a long term strategy because of their possible side effects, these medications include Sudafed, Afrin, and Benadryl.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural solutions or the natural remedies can sometimes even be used by themselves. These include a Neti pot or saline sprays. In certain situations, even a simple 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 minimize dust on surfaces, and running an air purifier can also go a long way. Make sure you bathe your pets routinely if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.
Already Tried All That?
Over-the-counter and natural treatments might not work in some cases. When none of these approaches help over the course of a few weeks professional assistance may be required. An allergist will figure out if you are a good fit for allergy shots. Every week for about six months a shot will be given in increasing dosages then the shots will be decreased 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. This therapy does require a long-term commitment of up to five years, however, patients often feel relief beginning at around eight months.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these strategies help, it’s time to get a hearing test.