While everybody has encountered a runny nose, we don’t usually mention other types of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. One kind of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or both ears. This form of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be neglected.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. This blockage is usually alleviated when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you shouldn’t ever dismiss pain in your ear, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will result in inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by generating fluid that can accumulate on the eardrum. So somebody with an inflamed eardrum might 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 over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which results in long-term hearing loss. In turn, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.
It could cost you if you wait
If you’re experiencing ear pain, get your ears examined by us. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold clears up. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual pain in the ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed quickly to avoid further harm.
Many people who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain lingers. This is often when an individual finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. Irreversible hearing loss is frequently the result and that’s even more true with people who experience ear infections frequently.
Over time, hearing clarity is impacted by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a barrier 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 go into 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 deal with that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more severe cold than most individuals may think. If you’re experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You might need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the situation. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.