Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they are less common. One type of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you might generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be dismissed.

What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?

It’s not uncommon to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are linked. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.

But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even during a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. And that will trigger inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. So an individual 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 slow.

This is called conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear in the short term. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. 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. In many cases, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the primary cold clears up. A patient might not even remember to mention that they’re experiencing actual pain in the ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection has to be promptly addressed.

Many individuals who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to notice that the ear pain remains. This is usually when a person finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is usually done by this time. This damage often causes an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.

Every time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a barrier between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were once confined to the middle ear can get into the inner ear if the eardrum is lacerated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can irreversibly harm the nerve cells needed 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 serious cold than most individuals might think. You should schedule 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 dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You may need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the situation. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can discuss solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.

If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, schedule an appointment asap.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.