While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t often talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. One type 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 shouldn’t ever be dismissed.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
Your sinuses are directly linked to your ears, so it’s common to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a cold. Usually, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will lead to inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by producing fluid that can accumulate on the eardrum. So somebody who is coping with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most pronounced when you are sleeping on your side.
This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could be costly
If you’re noticing ear pain, have your ears tested by us. It’s not unusual for a primary care physician to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. Sometimes, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be feeling in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection has to be promptly treated.
Many individuals who develop ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain lingers. Most individuals typically make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this time. But by this time, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. Permanent hearing loss is frequently the result and that’s even more true with people who experience ear infections frequently.
After a while, hearing clarity is affected by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your 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 previously restricted to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can damage the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.
What should you do if you waited to treat 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. If you’re dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the situation, you might have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If you’re dealing with 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.