McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Woman in bed sneezing with allergies that are clogging her ear.

Depending on where you live, allergy season can be all year long. From pollen to pet dander, allergies can vary from a slight aggravation to a daily battle that impacts your quality of life. The first and most common signs that you are dealing with allergies are normally itchy eyes and a runny nose.

But more advanced symptoms, including tinnitus, poor balance, and hearing loss often occur. These symptoms happen because of added pressure in your inner and middle ear.

Why is Your Hearing Impacted by Allergies?

Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it detects an environmental allergen. This release results in the familiar itchy eye symptoms and sniffles of allergies. Fluid buildup 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. This fluid causes pressure that can trigger tinnitus, trouble hearing, and even loss of balance as your equilibrium is disrupted.

How to Manage This Allergy-Related Hearing Loss

Allergies can be treated in many different ways. Over-the-counter medications such as Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are generally the first solution. Minor cases can be effectively managed within a couple of days and initial relief typically starts after the first dose. Long term use of these medicines is also safe. Other allergy medication can be used temporarily but aren’t recommended as a long term strategy because of their potential side effects, these medications include Sudafed, Afrin, and Benadryl.

You can also combine over-the-counter medications with natural solutions or the natural options can in some cases even be used by themselves. These include saline sprays or a Neti pot. A vapor tablet, in some scenarios, when used in a hot shower can be very helpful also. You can also make changes to your environment including buying an air purifier, cleaning dust off surfaces with a damp cloth, and washing your fabrics in hot water every couple of weeks. Be certain that you give your pets a bath frequently if you have any and try to feed them dander control pet food if you’re allergic to them.

When Nothing Else Helps

For some people over-the-counter and natural solutions won’t be enough. If you’ve tried these solutions over the course of a few weeks and you’re not having any relief it may be time to seek professional assistance. To figure out if you require an allergy shot, you will need to consult an allergist. Every week for about six months a shot will be given in increasing dosages then the shots will be reduced to once a month. Small amounts of the allergen will be released into your system allowing your body to slowly learn how to deal with it. Although it only takes about eight months for patients to experience some relief, this treatment will require a long term commitment of as much as five years.

If you still have pressure in your ears and none of these methods help, it’s time to have a hearing exam.

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