While everybody has experienced a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other kinds of cold symptoms because they are less common. One type of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be dismissed.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly linked to your ears, so it’s common to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you shouldn’t ever disregard pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will cause inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So an individual with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Unfortunately, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. As a result, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could cost you
If you’re having pain in your ear, have your ears checked by us. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the primary cold clears up. 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 advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent additional damage, the ear infection has to be promptly addressed.
In many instances, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. This is usually when a person finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. Permanent hearing loss is frequently the consequence and that’s even more true with people who experience ear infections regularly.
Over time, hearing clarity is affected by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a buffer between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were previously confined to the middle ear can get into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can irreversibly damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
If you waited to get that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most individuals may think. If you’re dealing with persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We can assess whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You may need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the case. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re having trouble hearing after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.