As the weather gets chillier and the leaves start to fall, we know we’re at the precipice of cold and flu season. While you may be familiar with most symptoms associated with a head cold, there’s one you may not know about: hearing loss. We review this connection below.
What Causes a Cold?
Colds are caused by a virus. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause a cold, though the rhinoviruses are the most common culprits.
Virus particles are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets are inhaled by someone else. A cold can also be spread when a sick person touches a surface that someone else then touches, like a doorknob.
The idea that you can catch a cold from being outside when it’s chilly is an old wives’ tale. However, it is more common for colds to occur in the late fall or early winter, likely due to:
- Schools being in session.
- People staying indoors in close proximity to one another.
- Low humidity causing dry nasal passages.
Common cold symptoms include:
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Sore/scratchy throat
- Low fever
- Achy muscles and bones
- Plugged ears
Symptoms usually last seven to ten days and resolve on their own. Rest and hydration are the best ways to help kick a cold.
How a Cold Can Cause Hearing Loss
There are two main ways a cold can contribute to hearing loss.
- The Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat and allow fluid to drain, can become blocked.
- Congestion can then build up in the middle ear, making it hard for soundwaves to travel through the ear.
Both these factors can contribute to sounds seeming muffled, making it difficult to make out speech. Other auditory symptoms include dizziness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Though these symptoms tend to be temporary, in rare cases the virus can affect the auditory nerve and cause permanent damage.
How to Find Relief
If your cold is causing auditory symptoms, the best thing you can do is pick up a decongestant from Huntsville Compounding Pharmacy. If you experience ongoing hearing problems, contact an audiologist. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Northern Alabama ENT today.