While everybody has encountered a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other types of cold symptoms because they are less common. One type of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or both ears. While you may generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be ignored.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever dismiss, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, inflammation happens. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you have any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the initial cold does. Sometimes, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed promptly to avoid further damage.
In many cases, ear pain will persist even after the cold clears. This is often when a person 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’re prone to ear infections.
After a while, hearing clarity is affected by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was previously confined to the middle ear can now enter the inner ear, where it can damage the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most people might think. If you are dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Make an appointment right away if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.