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 goes into one or more ears. This form of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be ignored.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s common to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will lead to inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to accumulate on the exterior of the eardrum. So someone who is coping with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
It could be costly if you wait
If you’re experiencing pain in your ear, have your ears examined by us. In many cases, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the primary cold clears up. Occasionally, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed promptly to prevent further harm.
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 decide to see a hearing specialist at this point. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage often leads to permanent hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can impact hearing clarity. The eardrum is a barrier between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously 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 harm the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to treat that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most individuals simply think ear pain with a cold is normal when it really signals a much more serious cold infection. If you are experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. If this is the situation, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can discuss solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Make an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.