There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or both ears, though you rarely hear about those. This type of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be ignored.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
It’s not unusual to feel some congestion in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. And that will trigger inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by generating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This is called conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear over the short term. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage occurs to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. It’s not uncommon for a primary care physician to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection has to be promptly treated.
Many individuals who develop ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain remains. Most individuals typically make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this time. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage often results in permanent hearing loss, particularly if you’re at risk of ear infections.
After a while, hearing acuity is affected by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a boundary 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 serious cold than most individuals may think. If you are dealing with persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or permanent 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 trouble hearing after a cold.