While everybody has experienced a runny nose, we don’t often talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. One kind of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not unusual to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing 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 if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you should never disregard, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will cause inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most pronounced when you sleep on your side.
This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
Waiting could be costly
If you’re noticing pain in your ear, get 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. A patient may not even think to mention that they are experiencing actual ear pain. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed quickly to prevent more damage.
In many instances, ear pain will persist even after the cold clears up. Most individuals typically make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage frequently causes an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you are at risk of ear infections.
Every time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can impact hearing acuity. The eardrum is a buffer between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were once confined to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can irreversibly damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to deal with that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals simply assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really points to a much more serious cold infection. If you are dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You may need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the situation. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can talk about options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Make an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.