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 moves into one or both ears. This form of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be disregarded.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
It’s not unusual to feel some congestion in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are linked. This blockage is often relieved when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you shouldn’t ever disregard pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. When it does, inflammation happens. The immune system reacts to the cold by generating fluid that can accumulate on the eardrum. So a person who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This is called conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear in the short term. Unfortunately, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. In turn, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.
It could be costly if you wait
Come in and see us if you have 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 go away with it. A patient might not even remember to mention that they are experiencing actual pain in the ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be treated promptly to prevent further harm.
Many people who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain lingers. This is often when an individual finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is normally done by this time. This damage frequently leads to permanent hearing loss, particularly if you are at risk of ear infections.
Every time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a barrier between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were once restricted to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can permanently harm the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to have that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most individuals just think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more significant cold infection. If you’re experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You may need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the situation. 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 as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.