All year is allergy season in some places. From pollen to pet dander, allergies can vary from a minor inconvenience to a daily battle that impacts your quality of life. The first and most familiar signs that you are dealing with allergies are usually itchy eyes and a runny nose.
But more advanced symptoms, like tinnitus, bad balance, and hearing loss sometimes happen. These symptoms happen because of added pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why do Allergies Impair Your Hearing?
When your body senses an environmental allergen it reacts by expelling a chemical called histamine. The familiar itchy eyes and runny nose are the outcomes of this release. One less common symptom is the buildup of fluid in your middle and inner ear. The fluid blocks the allergen from getting further into your ear canal. This fluid produces pressure that can lead to tinnitus, trouble hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be managed in several different ways. The majority of people begin with over-the-counter medicines like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. Mild cases can be successfully treated within a couple of days and initial relief usually begins after the first dose. Extended 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.
There are also natural solutions that can be utilized on their own or in combination with over-the-counter medications. These include a Neti pot or saline sprays. A vapor tablet, in certain scenarios, when used in a hot shower can be very helpful as well. You can also make changes to your environment like purchasing an air purifier, cleaning dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every two weeks. If you have pets and have trouble with pet dander, make sure you give your pets a bath frequently.
When Nothing Else Helps
Over-the-counter and natural remedies may not work in some cases. When none of these methods help over the course of a few weeks professional help might be needed. An allergist will figure out if you are a good candidate for allergy shots. These shots will be given in slowly increasing doses once a week for up to six months before transitioning to a shot once a month. Small amounts of the allergen will be introduced into your system letting your body gradually learn how to deal with it. Though it only takes about eight months for patients to feel some relief, this treatment will demand a long term commitment of up to five years.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these strategies help, it’s time to get a hearing exam.