There are other symptoms of a cold that are less prevalent than the well known runny nose. One type of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that goes into one or more ears. While you may generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. This blockage is often alleviated when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain in your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, inflammation occurs. The immune system reacts to the cold by producing fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So an individual who is coping with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.
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. As a result, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
It could cost you if you wait
If you’re experiencing pain in your ear, have your ears checked by us. In many cases, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the primary cold clears up. A patient might not even remember to mention that they are experiencing actual ear pain. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated quickly to avoid more harm.
In many circumstances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears. Most individuals usually make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the outcome and that’s even more relevant with people who experience ear infections regularly.
Every time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a buffer 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 formerly restricted to the middle ear can now enter 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 deal with that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals simply think ear pain with a cold is normal when it really points to a much more serious cold infection. If you are dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We will determine if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the case, you might have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can talk about options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.