The American Lung Association reports that the average adult gets up to four colds a year. While colds are usually minor viral infections, that’s a lot. Whether the virus attacks the sinuses, throat or respiratory system, it can lead to ear congestion, and ultimately, an ear infection.
Although many people consider colds harmless, there are some symptoms you should never ignore. Researchers have finally confirmed the suspected link between ear infections and the common cold. This is a significant finding, because ear infections are a major contributing factor in the disturbing rise in antibiotic resistance.
Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Because your sinuses and ears are connected, it’s not uncommon to feel congested in your ears when you’re experiencing a cold. Typically this feeling comes and goes, especially if you’re taking a decongestant and your head is draining fluids. But congestion can develop into an ear infection in just a few hours. This is why you should always seek professional assistance if you experience any pain or unusual discharge in your ear.
Pain is a sign that your cold is moving in the wrong direction and can be an indication of inflammation or infection. If caught early, you can get a prescription for antibiotics and prevent permanent damage. If it’s ignored, it can lead to scarring on the the eardrum and possibly damage to the cilia from inflammation.
How serious is this? A cold will usually only cause temporary issues with your hearing. Damage to your eardrum or cilia, however, can lead to permanent hearing loss…which can lead to other health issues.
Hearing Loss Can Harm Your Overall Health
Hearing loss has been linked to other health issues, from loss of cognitive ability to depression to an increase in accidents. Researchers have recently shown a link between hearing loss and increased healthcare costs. In fact, in just 10 years, untreated hearing loss can raise your healthcare costs by 46%.
Hearing loss can also increase your likelihood of requiring hospitalization by 50%….and also increase the likelihood of being readmitted
Even minor damage can add up–Johns Hopkins found that just having mild hearing loss can double your chances of getting dementia. Consider the fact that every time you have an ear infection it can cause scarring that leads to significant hearing loss over time.
Suffering from Pain for Days?
Have you already ignored ear pain for days? It’s a common mistake, but seek treatment right away. There’s a reason most health insurance companies consider ear pain or signs of an ear infection an emergency. It’s important to get your ear evaluated if you had any pain over the course of your cold or are still having trouble hearing after your cold has cleared. A professional evaluation can determine whether:
- you currently have an infection
- there is damage to the eardrum that needs to be addressed
- your inner ear is affected
A professional evaluation can also make sure there are no obstructions in the ear that might cause discomfort or temporary hearing loss.
Ear pain or prolonged hearing loss are sure signs that you need to see a professional. Schedule an appointment today.