With the recent surge of infectious diseases and people’s continued awareness of how germs spread, tensions are high, and everyone is worried about getting sick. While most are concerned about coronavirus, many may rejoice when their symptoms lead to a diagnosis of a common cold.
Often thought to be harmless, a common cold is often overlooked by many. The average adult American can get as many as four colds a year. Even if most colds are minor viral infections, that’s a lot of time being sick!
Are Colds Harmless?
Whether the virus attacks the respiratory system, throat, or sinuses, it can cause ear congestion or even an ear infection. This can have a permanent effect on your hearing.
Even though many people consider colds harmless, there are a few symptoms you may not want to ignore. The connection between the common cold and ear infections has recently been found by scientists, forcing many to take them more seriously. This is also an important finding because ear infections are a significant contributing factor in the disturbing rise in antibiotic resistance.
The common cold can affect hearing, smell, and taste, which can often disrupt your daily life. An upper respiratory infection can also lead to tinnitus or worsen tinnitus, a common condition often described as a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Since this condition is sometimes a result of the common cold, identifying and treating it can often be tricky.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus may sound like a dull roaring, hissing, or even clicking in your ears. It varies from person to person. Usually, when people are young, this condition may not affect them as much. However, adults may have their already decreasing faculties worsened significantly by this simple condition.
Tinnitus can also adversely affect people with pre-existing conditions such as physical ear injuries or early-onset hearing loss. This condition can be highly frustrating and can sometimes be painful.
If you have a severe enough cold, your upper respiratory infection can sometimes be damaging enough to cause tinnitus, as it usually affects the ears, nose, and throat. Blockage or an infection caused by the common cold can increase pressure in these cavities, which then will cause a ringing in your ears.
But don’t lose hope yet – there are a few things you can do to prevent the common cold and increase your chances of getting tinnitus. The best way to protect yourself from a cold is by using common sense:
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds and stuffy indoor areas.
- Use a mask if you feel you’re at high risk.
- Work from home if possible during peak cold and flu season.
- Keep your body healthy by drinking plenty of fluids, getting good sleep, and eating well.
A severe cold may only need a small amount of time to infect you, and at times you may not even know you have a cold until you are bedridden.
Congestion and Ear Blockage
The cold may also increase the blockage in your ears. This blockage can come in the form of earwax, and this can significantly increase the pressure in your ears. It is essential to clean your ears regularly. But be careful how you do this – incorrectly cleaning your ears can often lead to further hearing problems. Either buy an ear-cleaning kit or see a professional for ear wax removal.
It’s ordinary to feel stuffed up in your ears when you have a cold since your sinuses and ears are interconnected. If you’re using a decongestant and your head is draining fluids, this feeling generally comes and goes.
However, congestion can turn into an ear infection in only a few hours. This is the reason why you should always seek professional help if you experience any pain or unusual discharge in your ear.
Pain can be evidence of inflammation and infection – this could be a sign your cold is moving in the wrong direction. You can prevent permanent injury if you detect this early enough by getting a prescription for antibiotics. Ignoring this can lead to scarring on the eardrum and possibly damage to the cilia from inflammation.
A cold will generally only cause temporary issues with your hearing. However, injury to your eardrum or cilia can result in permanent hearing loss…which can lead to other health problems.
Loss of cognitive ability, depression, an increase in accidents, and other health concerns are associated with hearing loss. Also, a steep rise in healthcare costs has been linked to those with hearing loss. In fact, in just ten years, untreated hearing loss can increase your healthcare expenses by 46%.
Hearing loss can also raise your probability of needing hospitalization by 50%. Even mild hearing loss can, Johns Hopkins found, doubles your risk of getting dementia. Consider that significant hearing loss can be caused by scarring on the eardrum from recurring ear infections.
Have you already neglected ear pain for days? Get treatment immediately. Don’t make the common mistake of waiting too long. There’s a reason why most health insurance companies consider ear pain or indications of an ear infection an emergency.
If ear pain has occurred when you have a cold or after a cold, schedule a personal hearing test. If you live in the Las Vegas area, consider using Hearing Associates of Las Vegas for all of your hearing needs.