While everyone has experienced a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other kinds of cold symptoms because they are less frequent. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be dismissed.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
It’s not uncommon to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are connected. This blockage is usually relieved when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even when you have a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. When it does, inflammation takes place. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This impacts how well you hear in the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. 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 take place.
Waiting could be costly
If you’re experiencing ear pain, have your ears tested by us. It’s not uncommon for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. Occasionally, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But the infection has most likely reached the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly treated.
Many individuals who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain lingers. This is usually when an individual finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the consequence and that’s even more true with individuals who get ear infections frequently.
Every time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a buffer between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. 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 damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to treat that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more significant cold than most individuals may think. You should make an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You may need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the case. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible 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.