Hearing Health Blog

Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. Occasionally, a cold can go into one or more ears, though you rarely hear about those. This form of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be dismissed.

What does it feel like when you get 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 sinuses and ears are linked. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.

But if you experience pain in the ears, this is something you should never disregard, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will trigger inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to accumulate on the exterior of the eardrum. So somebody who is coping with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.

This affects how well you hear in the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. In turn, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.

It could cost you if you wait

If you’re noticing ear pain, have your ears checked by us. It’s not uncommon for a primary care physician 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 may be feeling in their ear. But the infection has likely gotten to the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re feeling pain. In order to avoid further damage, the ear infection needs to be quickly addressed.

Many individuals who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain remains. Most people usually make the decision to consult a hearing specialist at this time. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. This damage often leads to an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you’re at risk of ear infections.

Over time, hearing clarity 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 functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously confined to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is lacerated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can permanently harm the nerve cells needed to hear.

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

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals simply think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more significant cold infection. You should make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

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

Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re having trouble 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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