There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. Once in a while, a cold can go into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. This form of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be neglected.
What does a cold in the ear feel like?
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. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.
But you should never dismiss pain inside of your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, swelling happens. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to build up on the exterior of the eardrum. So a person who is coping 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 gradual.
This is known as conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear over the short term. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation causes the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.
It could cost you if you wait
If you’re experiencing ear pain, get your ears examined by us. In many cases, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the primary cold does. Sometimes, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be experiencing in their 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 additional damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly addressed.
In many circumstances, ear pain will remain even after the cold goes away. This is often when a person finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a lot of damage is normally done by this time. This damage frequently causes permanent hearing loss, especially if you’re prone to ear infections.
Over time, hearing acuity is affected by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. In a normal, healthy person, the eardrum serves as a barrier between the middle ear and inner ear. Ear infections that were previously confined to the middle ear can get into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can irreversibly damage the nerve cells needed to hear.
What should you do if you waited to address that ear infection?
Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most individuals may think. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.
We can determine whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). If this is the situation, you may have a blockage in your ear that needs to be extracted by a professional. If the hearing loss is permanent (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.