There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that goes into one or more ears. While you may generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you have 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. This blockage is usually relieved when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. When it does, inflammation takes place. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.
This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could be costly
If you’re having ear pain, get your ears checked by us. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the initial cold does. Sometimes, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But the infection has likely gotten to the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed promptly to avoid more damage.
In many cases, ear pain will linger even after the cold clears. Most individuals typically decide to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But, a great deal of damage is normally done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is frequently the outcome and that’s even more relevant with individuals who get ear infections regularly.
After a while, hearing acuity is affected by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were previously restricted to the middle ear can get 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 have that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most individuals might 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 can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You may need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Make an appointment right away if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.