Depending on where you’re located, all year can be allergy season. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can range from a minor annoyance to a daily struggle that impacts your quality of life. The first and most familiar indications that you are suffering from allergies are usually a runny nose and itchy eyes.
However, some will experience enhanced symptoms such as hearing loss, bad balance, and tinnitus. Added pressure in the inner and middle ear is the reason for these symptoms.
Why is Your Hearing Affected by Allergies?
Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it detects an environmental allergen. This release results in 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 stops the allergen from getting further into your ear canal. This fluid causes 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
Allergies can be managed in several different ways. The majority of people begin with over-the-counter products like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. These medicines are used to manage mild cases and can begin working in as little as one dose with the full effect manifesting after a few days of use. Extended use of these products is also safe. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not recommended for long term use as they can lead to unwanted side effects.
There are also natural approaches that can be used by themselves or in combination with over-the-counter medications. A Neti pot or saline solutions are some examples. In certain cases, even an ordinary hot shower can lead to improvement, particularly when combined with a vapor tablet. Environmental changes, such as regularly washing fabrics in hot water, using a damp cloth to minimize dust on surfaces, and running an air purifier can also significantly help. Be certain that you bathe your pets frequently 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 remedies may not work in some situations. If you’ve tried these approaches over the course of a few weeks and you aren’t having any relief it could be time to seek professional advice. To find out if you require 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 changing 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 deal with it. Although it only takes about eight months for patients to feel some relief, this therapy will demand a long term commitment of up to five years.
If none of the above approaches deliver relief, and you’ve made sure the pressure in your ears isn’t due to an ear infection, then it is time to get your hearing tested.