Depending on where you live, all year can be allergy season. Allergies can range from minimal to extreme and can be brought on by anything from pet dander to pollen. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first sign that you’re suffering from allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, such as tinnitus, bad balance, and hearing loss sometimes happen. These symptoms occur because of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why do Allergies Affect Your Hearing?
When your body detects an environmental allergen it responds by expelling a chemical called histamine. This release leads to the familiar itchy eye symptoms and sniffles of allergies. Fluid accumulation in the inner ear is a less known symptom. This is how your body stops the allergen from working its way deeper into your ear canal. This fluid creates pressure that can trigger tinnitus, problems hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are numerous ways to treat the symptoms of allergies. The majority of people begin with over-the-counter medicines like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. Minor cases can be effectively treated within a couple of days and initial relief usually starts after the first dose. These products are also safe for prolonged long term use if need be. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used short term for relief, but are not suggested for long term use as they can cause unwanted side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural remedies or the natural remedies can in some cases even be used by themselves. These include a Neti pot or saline sprays. In some cases, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, particularly when combined with a vapor tablet. You can also take steps to change your environment including getting an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics with hot water every two weeks. Be sure you bathe your pets frequently if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.
If None of These Help
Over-the-counter and natural remedies may not work in some circumstances. When none of these approaches help over the course of several weeks professional assistance may be needed. To find out if you need an allergy shot, you will need to consult an allergist. 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. These shots work by introducing a small bit of allergen into your system which enables your body to learn how to cope with it. Although it only takes about eight months for patients to feel some relief, this treatment will require a long term commitment of as much as five years.
If none of the above strategies provides relief, and you’ve made certain the pressure in your ears isn’t due to an ear infection, then it is time to get your hearing checked.