There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you might generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be ignored.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a cold. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. When it does, inflammation takes place. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. So someone who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. 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
If you’re experiencing pain in your ear, have your ears checked by us. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold does. A patient might not even think to mention that they are feeling actual ear pain. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed immediately to avoid further harm.
Many individuals who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain remains. Most people typically decide to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. Irreversible hearing loss is frequently the consequence and that’s even more relevant with people who get ear infections regularly.
After a while, hearing clarity is affected by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. 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 damage 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 beat yourself up. Most individuals just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more serious cold infection. If you’re dealing with persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You might need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the case. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can talk about options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.