While everybody has experienced a runny nose, we don’t commonly talk about other types of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. Occasionally, a cold can go into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be dismissed.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not uncommon to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. This blockage is often relieved when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you should never ignore, even during a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. When it does, swelling happens. The immune system responds to the cold by generating fluid that can accumulate on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. As a result, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
It could be costly if you wait
If you’re having pain in your ear, get your ears tested by us. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the initial cold does. Occasionally, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly treated.
Many people who develop pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain remains. This is often when an individual finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. Permanent hearing loss is frequently the outcome and that’s even more true 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. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were once confined to the middle ear can get into the inner ear if the eardrum is lacerated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can irreversibly harm the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to have that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more severe cold than most individuals may think. If you’re experiencing continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). If this is the situation, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If the hearing loss is permanent (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 trouble hearing after a cold.