There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or more ears, though you rarely hear about those. This type of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be ignored.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
It’s not uncommon to feel some congestion in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are linked. This blockage is often relieved when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever dismiss, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, inflammation takes place. The immune system responds to the cold by producing fluid that can collect on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This is called conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear over the short term. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.
Waiting could be costly
If you’re experiencing pain in your ear, have your ears checked by us. In many cases, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the primary cold does. Sometimes, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly addressed.
Many individuals who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain remains. This is often when an individual finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often causes an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you’re prone to ear infections.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can impact hearing acuity. The eardrum is a buffer between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was previously 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 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 can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). If this is the situation, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can talk about solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, make an appointment asap.