While everyone has experienced a runny nose, we don’t often mention other kinds of cold symptoms because they are less frequent. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or both ears, though you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be dismissed.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
It’s not abnormal to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are linked. This blockage is often relieved when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you should never dismiss pain inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will result in inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. In turn, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
It could be costly if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. In many cases, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the initial cold clears up. A patient may not even think to mention that they are experiencing actual pain in the ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed quickly to avoid more damage.
In many circumstances, ear pain will persist even after the cold clears up. This is often when an individual finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage often results in permanent hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can develop which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a buffer between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly restricted to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can damage the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.
What should you do if you waited to deal with that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more significant cold than most individuals may think. If you are experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You may need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the case. 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 having trouble hearing after a cold, make an appointment asap.