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, but you rarely hear about those. This type of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be ignored.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
It’s not abnormal to feel some congestion in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. This blockage is often alleviated when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you should never disregard pain in your ear, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. When it does, swelling occurs. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to build up on the outside of the eardrum. So a person with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.
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 go away when the primary cold clears up. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be experiencing in their ear. But the infection has probably reached the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated quickly to prevent more harm.
Many people who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain lingers. This is often when an individual finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often results in an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you are at risk of ear infections.
Over time, 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 barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were once confined 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 damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most individuals just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more significant cold infection. If you’re experiencing continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have an obstruction 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 having trouble hearing after a cold, make an appointment asap.