Depending on where you’re located, all year can be allergy season. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can vary from a minor aggravation to a daily struggle that impacts your quality of life. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the symptoms people are most familiar with and can be the first sign that you’re suffering from allergies.
But more pronounced symptoms, like poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss sometimes happen. These symptoms are a side effect of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why do Allergies Impair Your Hearing?
Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it senses an environmental allergen. The familiar itchy eyes and runny nose are the result of this release. Fluid accumulation in the inner ear is a less common symptom. This is how your body stops the allergen from working its way deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can result in problems with your equilibrium leading to a clogged ear, difficulty hearing, and balance issues.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are many ways to manage the symptoms of allergies. The majority of people begin with over-the-counter medicines like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. These products are used to manage mild conditions and can start working in as little as one dose with the full effect manifesting after a few days of use. Extended use of these medicines is also safe. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used short term for relief, but are not recommended for long term use because they can lead to undesirable side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural solutions or the natural remedies can sometimes even be utilized by themselves. These include a Neti pot or saline sprays. In some cases, even an ordinary hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. You can also make changes to your environment such as purchasing an air purifier, cleaning dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every couple of weeks. If you have pets and have a problem with pet dander, make sure you give your pets a bath regularly.
If None of These Works
Over-the-counter and natural solutions might not work in some situations. When none of these methods help over the course of several weeks professional help may be needed. To figure out if you require an allergy shot, you will have to consult an allergist. These shots will be given in slowly increasing dosages once a week for up to six months before transitioning to a monthly shot. These shots work by releasing a small bit of allergen into your system which enables your body to learn how to deal with it. This approach does demand a long-term commitment of up to five years, although, patients tend to feel relief starting at about eight months.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these methods help, it’s time to have a hearing exam.