Depending on where you’re located, allergy season can be all year long. From pollen to pet dander, environmental allergies can range from a slight annoyance to a daily struggle that affects your quality of life. Itchy eyes and a runny nose are the most familiar symptoms and can be the first sign that you’re suffering from allergies. But did you know allergies can lead to poor hearing?
However, some will experience advanced symptoms such as hearing loss, poor balance, and tinnitus. These symptoms are a side effect of increased pressure in your inner and middle ear.
Why Do Environmental Allergies Affect Your Hearing?
When your body detects an environmental allergen, it reacts by releasing a chemical called histamine. This release leads to the familiar sniffles and itchy eye symptoms of allergies. One less common symptom is fluid build up in your middle and inner ear. This is how your body stops the allergen from working its way deeper into your ear canal. This fluid creates pressure that can lead to tinnitus, trouble hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is affected.
How To Treat This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
There are many ways to treat the symptoms of environmental allergies. Most people start with over the counter
products such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. These products are used to treat mild cases and begin working in as little as one dose, with the full effect appearing after a few days of use. These products are also safe for continued long term use if need be. Others such as Benadryl, Sudafed, and Afrin can be used short term 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 on their own or combined with over-the-counter remedies. These include saline sprays or a neti pot. In some cases, even a simple hot shower can lead to improvement, especially when paired with a vapor tablet. You can also make changes to your environment, such as purchasing an air purifier, wiping dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every two weeks. If you have pets and struggle with pet dander, be sure to bathe your pet regularly.
Already Tried All That?
Allergies can lead to poor hearing. For some people, over-the-counter and natural remedies won’t be enough to treat environmental allergies. If you’ve tried these methods over the course of a few weeks and are not experiencing any relief, it may be time to seek professional help. An allergist will decide if you are a good candidate for allergy shots. These shots will be given in slowly increasing doses once a week for up to six months before switching to a monthly shot. These shots work by introducing a small bit of allergen into your system, which allows your body to learn how to deal with it. This treatment does require a long-term commitment of up to five years. However, patients tend to experience relief starting at around eight months.
If none of the above provides relief, and you’ve made sure the pressure in your ears isn’t due to an ear infection, then it is time to have your hearing tested.