Images shows a lady who is sick with a cold

Could a common cold affect your hearing?

Contributed by Dave Cutten

07/02/2022 00:00:00 • 3 min read

This time of year, many of us carry a pack of tissues and use vapour rub and cough sweets as we try to stave off the common cold.

We usually get back to our normal selves after a week or so, but sometimes a cold can have a lasting effect.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Fluid build-up from a cold can cause congestion, making it difficult to hear. This hearing difficulty is usually temporary, and will clear up with your cold. In some cases, however, the pressure this fluid build-up puts on your inner can damage the fine hairs or nerves in the cochlea. This can can cause hearing loss, which can even be permanent if left for too long. This type of hearing impairment is called sensorineural hearing loss and can be missed by GPs. Famously, musician and composer Michael Berkeley discovered this 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 naturally impacted his work as a composer. As a result, he now wears hearing aids after learning the cold virus had spread to his inner, damaging the nerves in his inner ear and causing his hearing loss.



Berkeley’s initial misdiagnosis and his own dismissal of symptoms has now had a permanent effect on his life and work. He can still compose, but it took months for him to adjust to his new hearing aid. It’s important that you pay close attention to your own body and if you are suffering from a cold, you should seek medical attention if anything appears out of the ordinary.

Take action

Ear infections are also a common occurrence when suffering from a cold and are usually treated easily with antibiotics. But it’s important that if you are poorly and start experiencing any of the symptoms below that you speak 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

If you find yourself struggling with a hearing loss, don’t suffer in silence. Book a free hearing consultation now.