Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the well known runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that goes into one or more ears. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be dismissed.

What does a cold in your ear feel like?

Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s common to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. 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. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can become infected. And that will result in inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by producing fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. This leak is most apparent 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. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which brings about long-term hearing loss. 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 dealing with any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the initial cold does. Sometimes, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they may be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed quickly to prevent more harm.

In many instances, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. Most people typically decide to consult a hearing specialist at this point. But by this time, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. Irreversible hearing loss is frequently the outcome and that’s even more true with people who experience ear infections frequently.

After a while, hearing acuity is affected by the small-scale scars and perforations 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 becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was previously restricted to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can damage the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.

What should you do if you waited to treat that ear infection?

Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most people might think. If you are dealing with persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.

We can assess whether the hearing loss is short-term (conductive). You might need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the case. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can talk about options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.

Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.

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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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