There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that goes into one or more ears. While you might generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. This blockage is usually relieved when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you feel pain in the ears, this is something you should never dismiss, even during a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, swelling takes place. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to accumulate on the exterior of the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This is known as conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear in the short term. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. As a result, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Waiting could cost you
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. It’s not uncommon for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. A patient might not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual pain in the ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection has to be quickly treated.
In many cases, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. This is usually when a person finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is usually done by this time. This damage often results in an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you are at risk of ear infections.
After a while, hearing acuity is affected by the tiny scars and perforations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. 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 treated, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more severe cold than most individuals may think. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will determine if you’re coping with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, 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.