While everybody has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other types of cold symptoms because they are less frequent. One type of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that goes into one or both ears. While you may generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be disregarded.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
Your sinuses are directly linked to your ears, so it’s common to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. Normally, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be relieved.
But if you experience pain in the ears, this is something you should never ignore, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will result in inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by generating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So someone with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. Because it’s a gradual leak, it’s most pronounced when you sleep on your side.
This impacts how well you hear in the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.
It could be costly if you wait
If you’re noticing pain in your ear, have your ears checked by us. Oftentimes, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the initial cold clears up. A patient might not even think to mention that they are feeling actual pain in the ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly treated.
In many cases, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. This is often when an individual finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But by this time, a lot of damage has already been done. Permanent hearing loss is often the outcome and that’s even more true with people who experience ear infections frequently.
Each time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. In an average, healthy person, the eardrum serves as a barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was previously restricted to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can harm 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 be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more significant cold than most individuals may think. If you’re dealing with persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us sooner rather than later.
We will determine if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You might need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the case. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can talk about 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.
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