Depending on where you live, all year can be allergy season. Allergies can range from minor to extreme and can be triggered by anything from pollen to pet dander. Runny nose and itchy eyes are the symptoms people are most familiar with and can be the first sign that you’re dealing with allergies.
However, some will experience advanced symptoms such as hearing loss, poor balance, and tinnitus. Increased pressure in the middle and inner ear are responsible for these symptoms.
Why is Your Hearing Affected by Allergies?
Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it senses an environmental allergen. The familiar runny nose and itchy eyes are the result of this release. One less common symptom is the buildup of fluid in your middle and inner ear. This is how your body stops the allergen from working its way deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can result in issues with your equilibrium leading to a clogged ear, trouble hearing, and balance issues.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are many ways to deal with the symptoms of allergies. Over-the-counter medications like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra are usually the first solution. These products are used to manage minor conditions and can start working in as little as one dose with the full effect manifesting after a few days of use. Long term use of these medicines is also safe. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not recommended for extended 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 utilized by themselves. These include saline sprays or a Neti pot. In some cases, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, particularly when paired with a vapor tablet. Environmental changes, like regularly washing fabrics in 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 give your pets a bath regularly 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 solutions won’t be enough. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of a few weeks and you aren’t experiencing any relief it might be time to get professional assistance. To find out if you need an allergy shot, you will need to go see an allergist. Every week for about six months a shot will be given in increasing doses then the shots will be reduced to one every month. Small amounts of the allergen will be released into your system allowing your body to slowly learn how to handle it. This approach does demand a long-term commitment of up to five years, although, patients tend to experience relief beginning at about eight months.
If none of the above strategies provides relief, and you’ve made certain the pressure in your ears isn’t caused by an ear infection, then it is time to have your hearing tested.