The common cold occurs when a virus infects your nose and throat, causing various symptoms like a runny nose, cough, and congestion. Cold leading to ear infections is quite common, and you might experience mild body aches or a headache along with it. Due to this reason, you can also experience pain in or around the ear, which usually feels like a dull ache.
The earache may happen during or after a cold because of the infection. It is possible to relieve the pain and feel better in either case.
How can a Cold Cause Ear Infection?
The following reasons cause cold leading to ear infection:
The eustachian tube joins your middle ear to your upper throat and back of your nose. Its function is to stop excessive air pressure and fluid from gathering in your ear.
Mucus and fluid from your nose often build up in your eustachian tube when you have a cold, and it may block the tube, causing ear pain.
Usually, the ear congestion will get better as your cold fades. But sometimes, it can cause secondary infections.
2- Middle Ear Infection
A middle ear infection, or an infectious otitis media, is a typical intricacy of the cold. It happens when viruses in your nose and throat penetrate your ear through the eustachian tube.
These viruses generate fluid buildup in the middle ear, resulting in bacterial growth in the fluid, and it can cause a middle ear infection.
This condition can lead to ear pain, along with:
- Difficulty hearing
- Green or yellow nasal discharge
3- Sinus Infection
An untreated cold can lead to a sinus infection, also known as infectious sinusitis. It creates inflammation in your sinuses, such as areas in your nose and forehead.
If you have sinusitis, you may experience ear pressure, and it can make your ear hurt.
Other possible symptoms for this include:
- Yellow or green postnasal drainage
- Difficulty breathing through your nose
- Facial pain or pressure
- Bad breath
- Poor sense of smell
Home Remedies for Treating Ear Pain Caused by Cold
Most cold leading to ear infection gets better on their own. However, you can use home remedies to manage the pain.
1- Hot or Cold Compress
To ease pain or swelling, you should place a heat or ice pack on your affected ear. Always be mindful of wrapping the pack in a clean towel, which will protect your skin from heat or ice.
2- Sleeping Position
If one ear is affected, you should sleep on the side with the unaffected ear. This way, it will decrease pressure on your affected ear.
You can also sleep with your head on two or more pillows, which reduces pressure. However, it can strain your neck, so use caution.
3- Nasal Rinse
You can try a nasal rinse if your earache is because of a sinus infection, and it will help in draining and clearing your sinuses.
Drink plenty of fluids, regardless of what is compelling your earache. Staying hydrated will help to loosen build-up mucus and speed up recovery.
Resting can support your body’s ability to combat a cold or secondary infection.
Medical Treatment for Ear Pain Caused by Cold
Along with home remedies, a physician may suggest the following treatments for ear pain:
1- OTC Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can relieve your pain and fever. For an earache, it is suggested to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, you should check with your doctors for treating toddlers. Moreover, you should always follow the label’s directions or ask a doctor for the appropriate dosage.
OTC decongestants can reduce swelling in the nose and ears. They can improve how you feel; however, they would not treat the cause of an ear or sinus infection.
OTC decongestants are available in several forms, such as:
- Nose drops
- Nasal sprays
- Oral capsules or liquid
3- Ear Drops
You can also benefit from OTC ear drops designed to relieve pain in the ear. However, if your eardrum has burst, ear drop may cause more damage than any good. Thus, you should consult your doctor first and follow the given instructions carefully.
Usually, antibiotics are not required to treat ear infections or sinusitis. But if you have chronic or severe symptoms and are at risk of a bacterial infection, a doctor may prescribe them.
Ear pain during or after a cold is common, and most cases are not severe, and the pain usually goes away on its own. OTC pain relievers and home remedies can make you feel better.
You should avoid taking common cold medication along with pain relievers, as they can cause problems. However, if your ear pain is severe and does not subside in a few days, then see a doctor. For more information, you can book an appointment with the best ENT specialists in Karachi through Marham.