There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be ignored.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly linked to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. Usually, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you should never disregard, even during a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, swelling happens. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. So a person who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious 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. As a result, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. In many cases, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold does. A patient may not even think to mention that they’re feeling actual ear pain. But the infection has likely reached the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed immediately to avoid more damage.
In many cases, ear pain will remain even after the cold goes away. This is usually when a person finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the consequence and that’s even more relevant with individuals who experience ear infections frequently.
After a while, hearing acuity is impacted by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a buffer between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly confined to the middle ear can now enter 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 address that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals just think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more significant cold infection. If you are experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). If this is the case, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or permanent 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, schedule an appointment asap.