While everyone has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other types of cold symptoms because they’re less common. Occasionally, a cold can move into one or more ears, though you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does a cold in your ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly connected to your ears, so it’s common to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. This blockage is usually alleviated when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you should never dismiss pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, swelling occurs. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate 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 is called conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear over the short term. Unfortunately, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
Waiting could be costly
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing 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 clear up with it. Occasionally, 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 progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed immediately to prevent further damage.
In many instances, ear pain will linger even after the cold goes away. Most individuals usually make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often results in permanent hearing loss, particularly if you’re 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. In an average, healthy person, the eardrum serves as a buffer between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly restricted to the middle ear can now enter 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 might think. If you are experiencing continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.
We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You may need to have an obstruction professionally extracted if this is the situation. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment solutions, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment right away if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.