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 go into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. This type of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be neglected.

What does a cold in the ear feel like?

It’s not unusual to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. This blockage is often alleviated when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.

But if you experience pain inside the ears, this is something you should never disregard, even during a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold moves into the ears. When it does, inflammation happens. The immune system responds to the cold by creating fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So somebody with an inflamed eardrum may 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 gradual.

This is called conductive hearing loss and impacts how well you hear over the short term. 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 happen.

It could cost you if you wait

If you’re noticing pain in your ear, have your ears examined by us. It’s not unusual for a primary care physician to wait until the cold is cleared up because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. A patient may not even think to mention that they’re feeling actual pain in the ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be addressed quickly to prevent further damage.

In many instances, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. Most individuals usually decide to see a hearing specialist at this time. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. This damage frequently leads to an irreversible hearing loss, particularly if you are prone to ear infections.

Each time you have an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can impact hearing clarity. In a normal, healthy person, the eardrum acts as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. 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 irreversibly harm the nerve cells needed to hear.

If you waited to get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most individuals may think. If you’re dealing with persistent hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to schedule an appointment with us sooner rather than later.

We can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You may need to have an obstruction professionally extracted if this is the situation. If the hearing loss is irreversible (sensorineural), we can discuss options that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.

Schedule an appointment right away 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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