There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. This form of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be neglected.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not uncommon to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are linked. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you should never dismiss pain in your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, inflammation occurs. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can collect on the eardrum. Frequently, 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 is known as conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear in the short term. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. It’s not unusual for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be experiencing in their ear. But the infection has likely gotten to the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. In order to avoid additional damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly treated.
In many circumstances, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. Most people usually decide to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But, a lot of damage is usually done by this time. This damage often causes an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.
Each time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. In an average, healthy person, the eardrum acts as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly restricted 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.
If you waited to get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really signals a much more significant cold infection. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You might need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Make an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.