While everyone has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be ignored.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
It’s not unusual to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. Normally, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you shouldn’t ever disregard pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, swelling occurs. The immune system reacts to the cold by producing fluid that can collect on the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most pronounced when you are sleeping on your side.
This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Unfortunately, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which results in long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.
It could be costly if you wait
If you’re having ear pain, have your ears tested by us. It’s not unusual for a primary care physician to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. Sometimes, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they may be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to avoid 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 discover that the ear pain lingers. Most individuals usually make the decision to see a hearing specialist at this point. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the outcome and that’s even more relevant with individuals who experience ear infections regularly.
Every time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a buffer between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was previously restricted 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 get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most individuals just think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually points to a much more significant cold infection. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). If this is the situation, you might have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or permanent 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 difficulty hearing after a cold.