All year is allergy season in some locations. Allergies can range from mild to severe and can be triggered by anything from pollen to pet dander. Runny nose and itchy eyes are the symptoms that are most familiar and can be the first sign that you’re experiencing allergies.
But some will experience advanced symptoms such as loss of hearing, poor balance, and tinnitus. Added pressure in the middle and inner ear are responsible for these symptoms.
Why do Allergies Impair Your Hearing?
When your body senses an environmental allergen it reacts by expelling a chemical called histamine. The common itchy eyes and runny nose are the outcomes of this release. One less common symptom is fluid build up in your inner and middle ear. The fluid blocks the allergen from going deeper into your ear canal. The resulting pressure can cause issues with your equilibrium leading to a blocked ear, difficulty hearing, and balance issues.
How to Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
Allergies can be treated in many different ways. Over-the-counter medications such as Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are usually the first solution. Minor cases can be effectively treated within a couple of days and initial relief typically starts after the first dose. These products are also safe for continued long term use if needed. Other allergy medication can be used temporarily but aren’t suggested as a long term solution because of their potential side effects, these medications include Sudafed, Afrin, and Benadryl.
There are also natural solutions that can be used on their own or combined with over-the-counter remedies. Saline solutions or a Neti pot are some examples. In some cases, even an ordinary hot shower can lead to improvement, particularly when paired with a vapor tablet. You can also take steps to change your environment including buying an air purifier, cleaning dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics with hot water every couple of weeks. Make sure you give your pets a bath regularly if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.
If None of These Works
For some individuals 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 experiencing any relief it may be time to get 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 released into your system letting your body progressively learn how to handle it. This treatment does demand a long-term commitment of up to five years, although, patients often experience relief beginning at about eight months.
If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these approaches help, it’s time to have a hearing test.