Did You Know Your Common Cold Could Cause Hearing Issues?

Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

There are other symptoms of a cold that are less common than the widely recognized runny nose. One kind of cold you don’t often hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. While you might generally think of colds as harmless, here’s why this ear-related cold symptom shouldn’t ever be ignored.

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

It’s not uncommon to feel some blockage in your ears when you’re experiencing a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are linked. Usually, when you take a decongestant for sinus relief, this blockage will also be alleviated.

But if you experience pain in the ears, this is something you shouldn’t ever disregard, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold goes into the ears. When it does, swelling occurs. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to collect on the outside of the eardrum. So an individual with an inflamed eardrum might also experience a gradual leaking of fluid from the ear. This leak is most obvious when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.

This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is known as conductive hearing loss. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which leads to long-term hearing loss. As a result, more permanent damage happens to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is known as sensorineural hearing loss.

Waiting could be costly

If you’re having ear pain, get your ears examined by us. It’s not uncommon for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will clear up with it. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are feeling actual ear pain. But if you’re feeling pain, the infection has progressed to a point where it is most likely doing damage to the ear. In order to prevent further damage, the ear infection has to be quickly treated.

Many individuals who experience ear pain during a cold, get over their cold only to find that the ear pain lingers. Most individuals typically decide to see a hearing specialist at this point. But, a great deal of damage is normally done by this time. This damage often results in permanent hearing loss, especially if you are prone to ear infections.

After a while, hearing clarity is impacted by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were once confined to the middle ear can go into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can irreversibly harm the nerve cells needed to hear.

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

Don’t beat yourself up. Most individuals just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really signals a much more significant cold infection. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

We will determine if you’re coping with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. 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 right away if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.

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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