Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

While everyone has encountered a runny nose, we don’t usually talk about other kinds of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. Once in a while, a cold can move into one or both ears, though you rarely hear about those. While you might generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be dismissed.

What does a cold in your ear feel like?

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

But if you feel pain inside the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever dismiss, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can become infected if the cold goes into the ears. And that will result in inflammation. The immune system responds to the cold by producing fluid that can build up on the eardrum. So a person who is coping 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 known as conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear in the short term. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which results in long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is injury to the nerves of the ear, can then happen.

Waiting could cost you

Come in and see us if you have any pain in your ears. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will clear themselves up when the primary cold does. A patient might not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual ear pain. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s doing harm to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be treated promptly to avoid more harm.

In many circumstances, ear pain will persist even after the cold goes away. Most people typically make the decision to see a hearing specialist at this point. But at this point, a lot of damage has already been done. This damage frequently leads to an irreversible hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.

Every time you get an infection, eardrum perforations and scar tissue can occur which, over time, can affect hearing acuity. The eardrum is a barrier between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was previously restricted to the middle ear can now enter the inner ear, where it can harm the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.

What should you do if you waited to deal with that ear infection?

Don’t beat yourself up. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more serious cold than most individuals may think. You should make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as you can if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

We will identify if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. You might need to have an obstruction professionally removed if this is the case. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can discuss solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.

Schedule an appointment right away 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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