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Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

There are other symptoms of a cold that are less prevalent than the well known runny nose. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or both ears, but you rarely hear about those. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and should never be disregarded.

What does a cold in your ear feel like?

Your sinuses are directly interconnected to your ears, so it’s normal to feel some blockage in your ears during a cold. This blockage is usually alleviated when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.

But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever ignore, even during a cold. If the cold moves into the ear, the eardrum can be infected. And that will trigger inflammation. Inflammation is an immune reaction that causes fluid to build up on the exterior of the eardrum. So an individual with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a slow leaking of fluid from the ear. 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. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then occur.

It could cost you if you wait

If you’re having pain in your ear, have your ears tested 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. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they might be experiencing in their ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing harm to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated quickly to avoid further harm.

In many instances, ear pain will persist even after the cold clears. This is often when a person finally decides to see a hearing specialist. But by this time, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. This damage often causes an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you’re prone to ear infections.

Over time, hearing acuity is impacted by the small-scale scars and lacerations of the eardrum which are left behind from ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously restricted to the middle ear can get into the inner ear if the eardrum is lacerated even once. When the infection goes into the inner ear, it can permanently damage the nerve cells needed to hear.

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

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most individuals just think ear pain with a cold is normal when it actually signals a much more serious cold infection. If you are experiencing continued hearing loss after a cold, it’s best to make an appointment with us as soon as possible.

We will determine if you’re dealing with conductive, or temporary hearing loss. You may need to have an obstruction professionally extracted if this is the case. If you have sensorineural, or irreversible 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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