While everyone has experienced a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other types of cold symptoms because they are less frequent. One kind of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that goes into one or both ears. While you may generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be ignored.
What does it feel like when you get a cold in your ear?
It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are connected. Usually, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, swelling takes place. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to collect on the exterior of the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most pronounced when you sleep 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 brings about long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
It could cost you if you wait
If you’re noticing pain in your ear, have your ears examined by us. It’s not uncommon for a primary care physician to wait until the cold goes away 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 the infection has probably reached the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed promptly to prevent more harm.
Many individuals who experience pain in their ear during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain lingers. Most people usually decide to see a hearing specialist at this point. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. Permanent hearing loss is often the consequence and that’s even more true with individuals who get ear infections frequently.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can impact hearing acuity. In an average, healthy person, the eardrum serves as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was previously confined 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.
What should you do if you waited to treat that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more severe cold than most individuals might think. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will determine if you’re dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You may need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the case. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Make an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.