While everybody has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less common. Once in a while, a cold can go into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. This type of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be disregarded.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even during a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, inflammation takes place. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate on the outside of the eardrum. So somebody who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is called 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 happen.
It could cost you if you wait
If you’re noticing ear pain, have your ears tested by us. It’s not uncommon for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to avoid additional damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly addressed.
In many cases, ear pain will persist even after the cold clears up. Most individuals usually make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the outcome and that’s even more true with people who experience ear infections regularly.
After a while, hearing acuity is impacted by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your 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 go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can permanently harm the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to address that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most individuals may think. You should make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You might need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the situation. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can discuss solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.