There are other symptoms of a cold that are less prevalent than the widely recognized runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that moves into one or both ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be dismissed.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
It’s not uncommon to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are linked. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, inflammation takes place. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate on the exterior of the eardrum. So an individual who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.
This is known as conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear over the short term. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. As a result, more permanent damage occurs to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. It’s not unusual for a primary care physician to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. A patient might not even think to mention that they’re feeling actual ear pain. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent additional damage, the ear infection has to be promptly treated.
Many people who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain remains. This is usually when a person finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is usually done by this time. This damage frequently results in permanent hearing loss, especially if you’re at risk of ear infections.
Over time, hearing clarity is affected by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a buffer between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly confined to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can harm the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.
If you waited to have that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most people just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really points to a much more significant cold infection. You should make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You may need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the situation. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.