Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

While everybody has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t often talk about other types of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. One type of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or both ears. 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 uncommon to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. This blockage is usually alleviated when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.

But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you should never disregard, even when you have a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. When it does, inflammation occurs. The immune system responds to the cold by generating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So an individual who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so gradual.

This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.

Waiting could cost you

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 clear themselves up when the initial cold does. A patient may not even remember to mention that they’re experiencing actual pain in the ear. But the infection has probably reached the point where it’s doing damage to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection has to be promptly addressed.

Many people who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain lingers. This is often when a person finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is normally done by this time. This damage frequently results in permanent hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.

Every time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. The eardrum is a buffer between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously restricted to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can permanently harm the nerve cells needed to hear.

If you waited to get 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 severe cold than most people 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 short-term (conductive). If this is the situation, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent 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.

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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.
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