Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

There are other symptoms of a cold that are less prevalent than the widely recognized runny nose. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. While you might generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be ignored.

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

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

But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. And that will cause inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate on the outside of the eardrum. Frequently, 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. Unfortunately, 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 occur.

Waiting could cost you

If you’re having ear pain, get your ears tested by us. It’s not unusual for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. Sometimes, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. It’s paramount that the ear infection be addressed promptly to avoid further harm.

In many circumstances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears up. This is often when an individual finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. Irreversible hearing loss is frequently the consequence and that’s even more relevant with people who get ear infections frequently.

Every time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. In a normal, healthy individual, the eardrum serves as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum gets perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly confined 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 deal with 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 people may think. If you are experiencing persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.

We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You might need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.

Make 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.