Depending on where you live, allergy season can be all year long. Allergies can range from minimal to acute and can be caused by anything from pollen to pet dander. The first and most common indications that you are dealing with allergies are usually a runny nose and itchy eyes.
However, some will experience advanced symptoms like hearing loss, bad balance, and tinnitus. Increased pressure in the middle and inner ear is the reason for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Impair Your Hearing?
When your body detects an environmental allergen it reacts by discharging a chemical called histamine. The common 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 getting 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 lots of ways to manage the symptoms of allergies. Most people start with over-the-counter products like Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. These medicines 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. These products are also safe for continued long term use if necessary. Others, like Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used temporarily for relief, but are not suggested for continuous use as they can cause undesirable side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural treatments or the natural options can in some cases even be used by themselves. A Neti pot or saline solutions are some examples. In some cases, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when paired with a vapor tablet. Environmental changes, like routinely washing fabrics in hot water, using a damp cloth to reduce dust on surfaces, and using an air purifier can also go a long way. Be certain that you bathe your pets 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 people over-the-counter and natural treatments won’t be enough. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of several weeks and you aren’t having any relief it could be time to seek professional assistance. An allergist will figure out if you are a good fit for allergy shots. Every week for about six months a shot will be given in increasing doses then the shots will be decreased to one every month. These shots work by releasing a small amount of allergen into your system which enables your body to learn how to deal with it. Although it only takes around eight months for patients to experience some relief, this treatment will demand 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 have your hearing checked.