Depending on where you live, allergy season can be all year long. From pet dander to pollen, allergies can vary from a small annoyance to a daily battle that affects your quality of life. The first and most common signs that you are dealing with allergies are commonly a runny nose and itchy eyes.
But more advanced symptoms, such as poor balance, tinnitus, and hearing loss sometimes occur. Added pressure in the middle and inner ear is the reason for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Affect Your Hearing?
Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it senses an environmental allergen. The familiar runny nose and itchy eyes are the outcomes of this release. 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. The resulting pressure can result in problems with your equilibrium leading to a blocked ear, difficulty hearing, and balance issues.
How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be managed in several different ways. Over-the-counter medications such as Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are generally the first solution. These products are used to manage mild conditions and can begin working in as little as one dose with the maximum effect appearing after a few days of use. These products are also safe for extended long term use if necessary. Others, such as Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin, can be used short term for relief, but are not suggested for long term use as they can result in unwanted side effects.
You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural treatments or the natural options can sometimes even be used by themselves. Saline solutions or a Neti pot are some examples. In some situations, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when combined with a vapor tablet. Environmental changes, including regularly washing fabrics with hot water, using a damp cloth to minimize dust on surfaces, and running an air purifier can also significantly help. 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.
Already Tried All That?
For some individuals over-the-counter and natural solutions won’t be sufficient. If you’ve tried these approaches over the course of a few weeks and you aren’t experiencing any relief it may be time to seek professional advice. To figure out if you need an allergy shot, you will need to go see an allergist. These shots will be delivered in slowly increasing dosages once a week for up to six months before changing to a shot once a month. Small amounts of the allergen will be introduced into your system letting your body slowly learn how to manage it. This approach does require a long-term commitment of up to five years, however, patients often 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 test.