There are other symptoms of a cold that are less prevalent than the well known runny nose. Once in a while, a cold can go into one or more ears, though you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be neglected.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you should never dismiss pain in your ear, even during a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. And that will lead to inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by generating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So a person who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most apparent 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. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.
It could cost you if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. It’s not uncommon for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. Occasionally, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. 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 addressed immediately to avoid more damage.
Many individuals who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain remains. This is usually when a person finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the result and that’s even more relevant with individuals who get ear infections regularly.
After a while, hearing acuity is impacted by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a buffer between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was previously confined to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can harm the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals simply think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually points to a much more significant cold infection. If you are experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). If this is the situation, you might have a blockage in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment right away if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.