While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other types of cold symptoms because they’re less common. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you may generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are linked. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you should never dismiss pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will trigger inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. So somebody with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you have any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the initial cold does. A patient might not even think to mention that they’re experiencing 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 avoid further damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly addressed.
Many individuals who develop pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain lingers. Most people typically decide to see a hearing specialist at this point. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often leads to permanent hearing loss, particularly if you’re prone to ear infections.
Each time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. The eardrum is a buffer between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was previously 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.
What should you do if you waited to address that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals just think ear pain with a cold is normal when it really points to 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 can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You may need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.