While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t commonly talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. One type of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you may generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s common to feel some congestion in your ears during a cold. This blockage is usually relieved when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even when you have a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will cause inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you sleep on your side.
This is called conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear in the short term. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. As a result, more permanent damage occurs to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. In many cases, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the primary cold clears up. Sometimes, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But the infection has most likely gotten to the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly addressed.
Many individuals who develop pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain lingers. This is usually when a person finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But by this time, a lot of damage has already been done. Irreversible hearing loss is frequently the result and that’s even more relevant with people who experience ear infections frequently.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can impact hearing acuity. 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 formerly confined 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 deal with that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most people may think. You should make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You might need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.