There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that goes into one or both ears. While you might generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be ignored.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion in your ears during a cold. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. And that will result in inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by generating fluid that can build up on 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 slow.
This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you have any pain in your ears. It’s not uncommon for a primary care physician to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual ear pain. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to avoid additional damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly addressed.
Many individuals who develop pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain remains. Most individuals usually make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage frequently causes permanent hearing loss, especially if you’re prone to ear infections.
After a while, hearing acuity is affected by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously restricted to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can permanently damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to deal with that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more severe cold than most individuals may think. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You might need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the case. If you have sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Make an appointment right away if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.