The American Lung Association reports that the average adult gets as many as four colds every year. Although colds are normally minor viral infections, that’s a lot. Whether the virus attacks the throat, respiratory system, or sinuses, it can lead to ear congestion, and ultimately, an infection in the ear.
There are certain cold symptoms you shouldn’t ignore even though colds are usually thought to be harmless. The connection between the common cold and ear infections has finally been confirmed by scientists. This is a significant finding, because ear infections are a major contributing factor in the disturbing rise in antibiotic resistance.
Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Considering that your sinuses and ears are interconnected, it’s not uncommon to feel stuffed up in your ears when you’re experiencing a cold. Usually, this feeling comes and goes, especially if you’re using a decongestant and your head is draining fluids. But congestion can turn into an ear infection in only a few hours. This is the reason that if you’re experiencing pain or discharge in your ears you should seek professional help.
Pain can be evidence of inflammation and infection and is a signal your cold is moving in the wrong direction. If caught early, you can get a prescription for antibiotics and prevent permanent damage. It can lead to eardrum scaring and may harm the cilia if neglected.
How significant is this? A cold will usually only cause temporary problems with your hearing. However, permanent hearing loss can result if the eardrum or cilia become damaged and that can lead to other health issues.
Hearing Loss Can Harm Your Overall Health
Hearing loss has been connected to other health problems, from loss of cognitive ability to depression to a rise in accidents. Researchers have recently shown a connection between loss of hearing and more expensive healthcare costs. In fact, in just 10 years, neglected hearing loss can raise your healthcare costs by 46%.
Loss of hearing can also raise your probability of needing hospitalization by 50%….and the chance of needing to be readmitted also increases.
Even a small amount of damage can add up. Even mild hearing loss can, Johns Hopkins found, double your chances of getting dementia. Think about the fact that each time you have an ear infection it can lead to scarring that leads to considerable hearing loss over time.
Have You Had Ear Pain For Days?
Have you already ignored ear pain for days? It’s a common oversight, but seek treatment immediately. Most health insurance companies consider symptoms of an ear infection or ear pain an emergency and there’s good reason for that. It’s important to get your ear checked out if you had any pain during your cold or are still experiencing difficulty hearing after your cold is gone. A professional examination can determine whether:
- there is damage to the eardrum that should be dealt with
- your inner ear is impacted
- You have an infection right now
A professional examination can also ensure that there are no blockages in the ear that may cause discomfort or temporary hearing loss.
It’s a sure sign that you should consult a professional if you have prolonged hearing loss or pain in your ear. Schedule an appointment now.