While everyone has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other types of cold symptoms because they are less common. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or both ears, though you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and should never be disregarded.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. Normally, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain in your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. And that will cause inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. So a person 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 affects 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 damage to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.
It could cost you if you wait
Come in and see us if you have any pain in your ears. In many cases, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold clears up. Occasionally, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent additional damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly treated.
Many individuals who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain remains. This is often when an individual finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. This damage often leads to permanent hearing loss, especially if you are at risk of ear infections.
Every time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were previously 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.
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 people might think. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
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 extracted by a professional. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or irreversible 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 difficulty hearing after a cold.