There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common 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 might generally think of 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 congestion in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are linked. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever dismiss, even when you have a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. And that will cause inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to accumulate on the outside of 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 gradual.
This is known as conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear over the short term. 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.
It could be costly if you wait
If you’re experiencing ear pain, get your ears checked by us. 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. A patient might not even remember to mention that they’re feeling actual ear pain. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated promptly to prevent further damage.
Many people who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain remains. 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, especially if you’re at risk of ear infections.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. In a normal, healthy person, the eardrum serves as a barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were once restricted 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 permanently harm the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most people just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really points to a much more serious cold infection. If you’re 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 temporary hearing loss. If this is the case, you might 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 options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re having trouble hearing after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.