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. Occasionally, a cold can go into one or both 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 get a cold in your ear?

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

But you shouldn’t ever ignore pain in your ear, even when you have 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. Often, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most pronounced when you are sleeping on your side.

This affects how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. But long term hearing loss can also happen if this inflammation forces the eardrum to burst. As a result, more permanent damage takes place to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.

Waiting could cost you

If you’re having pain in your ear, have your ears checked by us. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will go away when the initial cold clears up. Sometimes, a patient won’t even remember to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But if you’re experiencing pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent additional damage, the ear infection needs to be promptly addressed.

In many instances, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. This is often when an individual 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.

Every time you get an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. In an average, healthy person, the eardrum acts as a boundary between the middle ear and inner ear. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly confined to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can harm the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.

If you waited to have 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 people might think. You should make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

We will determine if you’re dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You might need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.

If you’re struggling to hear after a cold, make an appointment asap.

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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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