There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. Occasionally, a cold can go into one or more ears, though you rarely hear about those. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly linked to your ears, so it’s common 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 you shouldn’t ever disregard pain inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will trigger inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by producing fluid that can collect on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This is known as conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear in the short term. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. 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. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual pain in the ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. In order to prevent additional damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly treated.
Many people who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain lingers. Most individuals usually decide to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But, a lot of damage is usually done by this time. This damage frequently leads to an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you are at risk of ear infections.
After a while, hearing clarity is affected by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. 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 enters the inner ear, it can permanently harm the nerve cells needed 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 individuals might think. You should make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will determine if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the situation, you might have a blockage in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can discuss options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.