Whether it be a summer head cold, a fall bout of the sniffles, or a terrible winter bug, sickness and hearing aids are always a dreadful and inconvenient mixture. You may have a runny, stuffed up nose, an itchy throat, a cough, zapped energy, etc. The list goes on. While a cold may effect the hearing of those without hearing aids, individuals with hearing aids may be hit the hardest. When you start with impaired hearing to begin with, hearing while suffering through a cold can be a big issue.
Getting a cold means fluid can build up in the middle ear, which makes it harder for sounds to travel to the eardrum. This particular kind of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss — this is because it relates to difficulties in conducting the sound waves from the environment you are in through to the eardrum. Sometimes fluid in the ear can also cause tinnitus. Combine this with sensorineural hearing loss — hearing problems related to a damaged cochlea or auditory nerve — and this is a recipe for trouble.
The average loss in hearing from fluid in the ears is 24 decibels which is about equivalent to the impact of wearing ear plugs according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. In more severe cases, fluid can cause loss of hearing up to 45 decibels — this is about the range of conversational speech! This can be a huge issue for those already struggling to hear.
The number one thing to remember? This additional hearing loss is only temporary. When your cold finally clears up you may find yourself even more grateful for the hearing that you have! It may be difficult to remember this while you are sick, so here are a few tips to get you through your cold:
- Get plenty of rest — Your number one goal should be to recover as quickly as possible and the ultimate way to do this is to get rest! Of course implement the other tried and true tactics for getting through a cold — drink lots of fluids, take Vitamin C, enjoy plenty of chicken noodle soup, etc.
- Try some over-the-counter medicine — A decongestant can work wonders, it can help shrink inflammation in the nasal passages and even dry up excess fluid.
- Communicate — Let people know you are having a little extra trouble hearing when you have a cold — this will make your life so much easier. Everyone can relate to plugged up ears from a head cold!
If you are sick and have a specific question, feel free to call, message, or stop by Valley Hearing Center. We are always here to support you in your hearing health journey and if you know a friend or loved one who needs hearing loss advice feel free to send them our way!
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