While everybody has encountered a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less common. Once in a while, a cold can go into one or both ears, though you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be dismissed.
What does it feel like when you get 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 connected. This blockage is usually relieved when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.
But you should never dismiss pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will cause inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most pronounced when you are sleeping on your side.
This affects how well you hear in 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 happen.
It could be costly if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re dealing with any pain in your ears. It’s not unusual for a primary care physician to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. 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 paramount that the ear infection be treated quickly to avoid further harm.
In many circumstances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears up. Most individuals typically make the decision to see a hearing specialist at this time. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often causes an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.
Each time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. In an average, healthy individual, the eardrum acts as a barrier 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 harm the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.
What should you do if you waited to address that ear infection?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most people just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more significant 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 coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the case, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.
If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, make an appointment asap.