While everybody has encountered a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less common. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or both ears, but 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 interconnected 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 shouldn’t ever disregard, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. When it does, inflammation occurs. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to build up on the exterior of the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you sleep on your side.
This is known as conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear in the short term. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the initial cold clears up. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are experiencing actual ear pain. But the infection has most likely reached the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly treated.
In many circumstances, ear pain will linger even after the cold goes away. This is often when an individual finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often leads to an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.
Over time, hearing clarity is affected by the tiny scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum acts 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 harm 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 might think. You should make an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will determine if you’re dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can discuss options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, make an appointment asap.