While everybody has experienced a runny nose, we don’t usually mention other types of cold symptoms because they’re less common. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are connected. Usually, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever dismiss, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. And that will cause inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by generating fluid that can accumulate on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
It could be costly if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. It’s not unusual for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. Sometimes, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they might be feeling in their ear. But the infection has most likely gotten to the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed immediately to avoid further damage.
In many instances, ear pain will remain even after the cold goes away. This is often when an individual finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. This damage often leads to permanent hearing loss, especially if you’re at risk of ear infections.
Every time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can impact hearing clarity. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a boundary 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 perforated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can irreversibly damage 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. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more significant cold than most individuals might think. If you are dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You might need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the situation. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can talk about solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Make an appointment right away if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.