While it is still technically summer until September 22, the prevalence of Halloween decorations and pumpkin spice lattes is a sign that it is unofficially fall. This means cold and flu season is coming. In addition to the traditional symptoms commonly associated with a virus, experiencing hearing loss can make you feel even worse.
Cold vs. Flu
The flu and common cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Because the two share many symptoms, it is often hard to tell the difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
A milder version of these symptoms may be seen with a cold, although a fever or a headache are rare. Colds typically last for about a week to 10 days, while symptoms of the flu can drag on for weeks.
Congestion and Hearing Loss
A common symptom of a viral infection is congestion. This can cause the Eustachian tubes within your ears to swell, leading to an obstruction. A buildup of fluid within the ear, which occurs when the tube connecting your middle ear to the back of your throat is not draining, can cause a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears. Some may also experience ear pair, dizziness and muffled hearing.
Swelling in the ear caused by a virus can make it harder for soundwaves to travel through the ear. This may cause temporary hearing loss.
Balance problems and/or tinnitus may also occur as the result of a virus.
Risk of Permanent Hearing Loss
Most hearing loss associated with a cold or the flu resolves once the swelling from the virus subsides. On rare occasions, the flu virus can affect the auditory nerve, which is responsible for passing sound information from the inner ear to the brain. This can lead to permanent hearing loss.
How to Treat Cold-Induced Hearing Loss
While the virus has to work its way through your system, treatment options are available to help you find relief from your symptoms. A nasal decongestant, which you can pick up over the counter at Solano Pharmacy or any local pharmacy, can help you clear your plugged ears.
To learn more about treating your temporary hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an expert, contact Valley Audiology today.