While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. Occasionally, a cold can go into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you might generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal 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 disregard pain inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will trigger inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate on the exterior of the eardrum. So somebody with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most pronounced when you sleep on your side.
This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage occurs to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
It could cost you if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. 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 will even forget to mention any pain they might be feeling in their ear. But the infection has probably reached the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. In order to avoid additional damage, the ear infection has to be quickly treated.
In many instances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears up. Most people usually decide to consult a hearing specialist at this time. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. This damage frequently results in an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.
After a while, hearing acuity is affected by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. In an average, healthy person, the eardrum serves as a buffer between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were previously confined to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can permanently damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
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 experiencing 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 dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.