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Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

While everyone has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other types of cold symptoms because they are less common. One type of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that goes into one or more ears. While you might generally consider colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom should never be disregarded.

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

Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some congestion in your ears when you have a cold. Normally, when you use a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.

But you should never disregard pain inside of your ear, even during a cold. If the cold goes into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will result in inflammation. The immune system reacts to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you are sleeping on your side.

This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also occur if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. In turn, more permanent damage takes place 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 examined by us. In many cases, a primary physician assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold clears up. Sometimes, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has advanced to a point where it is likely doing damage to the ear. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed immediately to avoid further harm.

Many individuals who develop ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to discover that the ear pain lingers. This is usually when a person finally decides to go to a hearing specialist. But by this time, a lot of damage has already been done. This damage often results in permanent hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.

After a while, hearing clarity is impacted by the tiny scars and perforations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a buffer between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. 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 permanently damage the nerve cells needed to hear.

If you waited to have that ear infection treated, what should you do?

Don’t beat yourself up. Most people just think ear pain with a cold is normal when it really points to a much more significant cold infection. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

We can determine whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You might need to have a blockage professionally removed if this is the case. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can discuss options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.

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.
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