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Could a common cold affect your hearing?

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30/05/18

It’s that time of year where many of us carry a pack of tissues in our pocket and constantly smell of vapour rub and cough sweets as we attempt to rid ourselves of the common cold.

You might feel terrible for a week or so as you soldier on, sniffing and sneezing and trying to sleep with blocked sinuses but in the end, the cold clears up and you’re back to your normal self. Sometimes though, it can have a lasting effect.

You might feel terrible for a week or so as you soldier on, sniffing and sneezing and trying to sleep with blocked sinuses but in the end, the cold clears up and you’re back to your normal self. Sometimes though, it can have a lasting effect.

Fluid buildup from a cold can have a lasting effect as it develops and presses on your inner ear and damages the fine hairs or nerves in the cochlea – resulting in permanent or partial hearing loss if left for too long. This is called sensorineural hearing loss and is often missed by GPs, as musician and composer Michael Berkeley discovered after suffering from a cold and hearing loss and was repeatedly told it would clear of its own accord.

Two months later and Berkeley was still suffering with severe hearing loss, which was of course affecting his work as a composer. He now has to wear hearing aids after discovering his cold had developed into something much worse, damaging the nerves in his inner ear and reducing his hearing abilities.

Imagine the effect the initial misdiagnosis and his own dismissal of symptoms has now had upon his life and work; he is able to compose but it took months for him to adjust to his new hearing aid. It is so important that you pay close attention to your body if you are suffering from a cold and seek medical attention should anything appear out of the ordinary.

Ear infections are also another common development when suffering with a cold and are usually treated easily with antibiotics. But it is important that if you are poorly and start experiencing any of the symptoms below that you go to your doctor immediately to prevent any permanent damage being done:

  • Dizziness
  • Earache
  • Feeling of pressure in the head
  • Loss of hearing in one or both ears or muffled hearing

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