Cold and flu season is in full swing. At some point, all of us have experienced the chills, the congestion, the fatigue, and the nagging cough. Among these symptoms is the “plugged ear” sensation that occurs from congestion build up in the sinuses and ears. Like the other symptoms, the hearing loss is usually temporary, but it can linger and only adds to the misery of being sick.
Why Do We Experience Hearing Loss When We Are Sick?
When you have a cold or the flu, congestion builds up in the middle ear. This makes it difficult for the sound waves to travel through the ear. The Eustachian tubes can also become blocked. The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube connecting the back of the nose and the middle ear. It is filled with air and protects, ventilates, and drains mucus from the middle ear. Blockage of the Eustachian tube causes the lining of the middle ear to absorb the trapped air. This creates a negative pressure that pulls the eardrum inward. When this occurs, people may experience muffled hearing, pain, tinnitus, reduced hearing, pressure, or problems with balance. The good news is that hearing usually returns to normal within a few days.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss During Cold & Flu Season
There are a few things you can do to help minimize your chances of getting a bad cold or the flu:
Take Vitamin C to help boost your immune system.
Get the flu vaccine! Even if it does not offer 100% protection from the flu, it will at least help minimize symptoms if you do get sick.
Wash your hands often.
Keep your ears warm and dry when you are outside in cold temperatures.
Maintain a healthy diet and exercise to improve blood circulation.
Avoid others who are sick.
If you do get sick, a decongestant will help minimize the congestion. If your ears feel “plugged” for more than a few days or you have pain, contact your doctor for a possible ear infection. For more information, contact us.