There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t often 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?
It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are connected. This blockage is often alleviated when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you should never dismiss, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will cause inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. So someone who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.
It could cost you if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the initial cold clears up. A patient may not even think to mention that they’re feeling actual pain in the ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be treated quickly to avoid more damage.
In many cases, 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 lot of damage has already been done. This damage frequently causes permanent hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.
Over time, hearing acuity is affected by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your 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 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 people simply think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more significant cold infection. If you’re experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is short-term (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 solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re having trouble hearing after a cold, make an appointment asap.