There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you might generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be dismissed.
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 congestion in your ears during a cold. This blockage is usually alleviated when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will result in inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. So somebody who is coping with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you sleep on your side.
This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Unfortunately, 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 happen.
It could be costly if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the initial cold does. Occasionally, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be feeling in their ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. In order to avoid additional damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly addressed.
In many circumstances, ear pain will persist even after the cold clears up. This is usually when an individual finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But by this time, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage frequently causes an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you’re at risk of ear infections.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly restricted to the middle ear can now enter the inner ear, where it can harm 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 be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most people may think. If you are experiencing continued 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 an obstruction 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.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, make an appointment asap.