Allergies & Tinnitus: An Overview
There are many causes of tinnitus. These include noise exposure, injury to the head and/or neck, blood pressure and circulation problems, side effects of medications and, in some cases, allergies.
However, sometimes tinnitus can be managed by treating the underlying cause or by altering reactions to it. It is important to note that treatment outcomes vary depending on the specific cause of tinnitus, how long a patient has had tinnitus and other competing health factors.
Allergies & Tinnitus
Allergies are abnormal reactions to a typically harmless substance – and one condition that can cause or worsen one’s tinnitus. An allergic reaction can have a simple symptom, such as sneezing, or it can include others: stuffy noise, watery eyes, skin rashes, congestion or ringing in the ears.
The human body usually learns to defend itself over time through exposure to illnesses and potential allergy triggers. In fact, this is how vaccinations help the human body create immunities. However, some people tend to be genetically predisposed to one or more allergic reactions.
A person can improve their tinnitus management by identifying and controlling the variables in their environment that trigger their sounds. Common irritants include air pollutants, dust, pollens, dust mites, animal fur, dander and feathers.
Seasonal changes can bring on allergies as well and it is important to become familiar with the irritants associated with each season.
Allergy Testing, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatment*
A typical allergy diagnosis includes skin tests. The “prick test”, the most common, is usually done on the patient’s back where multiple tests can be conducted at one time. The intradermal test uses a syringe to inject the allergen into the patient’s skin and a patch test covers the skin for 48 hours. By eliciting physical responses, these tests help determine the culprit(s). When skin testing is limited because of skin conditions such as eczema, a doctor can order a blood test called radioallergosorbent (RAST).
An allergy sufferer, particularly one whose allergies cause tinnitus symptoms, can attack the problem in a number of ways. Complementary therapies like acupuncture and herbal medicine help some people strengthen their immune system, while air purifiers with high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters help others. People who can’t control or avoid allergens take medications to control allergy symptoms.
Everyone is unique, so before taking any medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist what you currently take, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins. This information will inform your health professionals and help you avoid interactions and interferences.
*Note: ATA does not endorse or recommend any tinnitus treatment
- To see what other patients have reported about allergies and tinnitus, check out the Tinnitus Data Archive, Tinnitusarchive.org, for statistical summaries of tinnitus patients.
- In addition, PubMed, Pubmed.org, is a great public resource for easily searching a library of medical studies. Search the site using relevant keywords such as “allergies and tinnitus” and "allergy treatments."