While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other kinds of cold symptoms because they are less common. Once in a while, a cold can go into one or both ears, though you rarely hear about those. This form 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?
Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s common to feel some congestion in your ears during a cold. This blockage is usually alleviated when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But if you feel pain in the ears, this is something you should never dismiss, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, inflammation takes place. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can collect on the eardrum. So someone who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.
This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also take place if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.
Waiting could cost you
If you’re noticing pain in your ear, have your ears tested by us. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold clears up. A patient may not even think to mention that they are experiencing actual pain in the ear. But the infection has likely reached the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be treated promptly to prevent further harm.
Many people who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain lingers. Most people usually decide to see a hearing specialist at this time. But at this point, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage often results in an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you are 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. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. 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.
If you waited to have that ear infection treated, what should you do?
Don’t beat yourself up. Most people simply think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually points to a much more serious cold infection. You should make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. If this is the situation, you might have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can discuss options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Make an appointment right away if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.