There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. One type of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that goes into one or more ears. This type of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and should never be dismissed.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not unusual to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are connected. Usually, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But if you experience 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. And that will trigger inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate on the outside of the eardrum. So an individual who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. 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 in the short term. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. As a result, more permanent damage takes place 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 dealing with any pain in your ears. It’s not unusual for a primary care physician to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual ear pain. But the infection has likely reached the point where it’s doing damage to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated promptly to avoid more harm.
Many people who develop ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain lingers. This is usually when an individual finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is usually done by this time. Permanent hearing loss is frequently the result and that’s even more true with people who get ear infections regularly.
Every time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can impact hearing acuity. The eardrum is a buffer between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously confined to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is lacerated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can permanently damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to deal with that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more severe cold than most individuals might think. If you’re dealing with continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You might need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the case. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.