While everyone has experienced a runny nose, we don’t commonly talk about other kinds 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 form of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be ignored.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not abnormal to feel some congestion in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are linked. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you should never ignore, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, swelling happens. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you sleep on your side.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.
It could cost you if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the initial cold does. A patient may not even think to mention that they are experiencing actual ear pain. But the infection has likely reached the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re feeling pain. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly treated.
In many cases, ear pain will linger even after the cold clears. This is often when an individual finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. This damage often leads to permanent hearing loss, particularly if you’re prone to ear infections.
Over time, hearing clarity is affected by the tiny scars and perforations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. 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 previously confined 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 address that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most people simply assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really signals a much more significant cold infection. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You may need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the case. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
Schedule an appointment right away if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.