While everybody has experienced a runny nose, we don’t usually mention other types of cold symptoms because they are less common. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s common to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a cold. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. When it does, inflammation takes place. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. 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 called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. It’s not uncommon for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. A patient may not even remember to mention that they’re experiencing actual pain in the ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated promptly to avoid more harm.
Many individuals who develop ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain lingers. This is usually when an individual finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. Permanent hearing loss is frequently the outcome and that’s even more relevant with people who experience ear infections frequently.
Over time, hearing acuity is impacted by the small-scale scars and perforations 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 working 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 goes into the inner ear, it can permanently harm the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection treated, what should you do?
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’re dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You may need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the case. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can talk about solutions 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.