There are other symptoms of a cold that are less prevalent than the widely recognized runny nose. One type of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or both ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be ignored.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly linked to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion 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 inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, inflammation occurs. The immune system reacts to the cold by generating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So an individual with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a gradual 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 called conductive hearing loss. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which results in long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. In many cases, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold clears up. A patient might not even think to mention that they are experiencing actual ear pain. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be treated promptly to avoid further damage.
In many instances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears up. Most individuals typically decide to see a hearing specialist at this point. But by this time, 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.
Every time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can impact hearing acuity. The eardrum is a barrier between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was previously restricted 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.
What should you do if you waited to deal with that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most people just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really signals a much more significant cold infection. If you are experiencing continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). If this is the case, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re having trouble hearing after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.