While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t often mention other types of cold symptoms because they’re less common. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. This type of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be disregarded.
What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?
It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, swelling happens. The immune system reacts to the cold by generating fluid that can accumulate on the eardrum. So a person with an inflamed eardrum may also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.
This impacts how well you hear in the short term, which is called 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 happen.
It could be costly if you wait
Come in and see us if you’re experiencing any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold does. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed immediately to avoid more damage.
In many instances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears. Most people typically decide to consult a hearing specialist at this time. But by this time, a lot of damage has already been done. This damage often results in permanent hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.
Over time, hearing clarity is affected by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was previously 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.
If you waited to get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more significant cold than most people might think. You should make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
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 the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can discuss solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.
Make an appointment right away if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.