Know about ear pain due to cold


ear pain due to cold:DocTubeBlog

As if all the sneezing, coughing and runny nose were not enough, your ear hurts too! Well, this pain could be a symptom of an underlying ear infection or may be due to cold. It is important for you to know the reason in order to get the right kind of treatment. Ear pain due to cold is very common and proper care needs to be taken so that such pain is managed in the best possible manner. Often with a cold, you may get ear pain as the eardrum gets inflamed by the viral infection. It is usually a dull, burning or sharp earache that goes away with the cold. Colds are generally caused by viruses and therefore the best you can do is manage and treat the cold symptoms well and wait for the infection to subside (Pray, W.S., 1998. Ear pain: a common childhood problem. Journal of Modern Pharmacy, 5(11), p.6). In some people, particularly adults who smoke and children, a second infection occurs inside the ear when bacteria cause fluid and pus to fill up in the space behind the eardrum. An ear infection may be similar to the earache symptoms of a cold except for the fact that the pain is prone to be sharper and will come on more suddenly.

Ear pain commonly occurs during a cold or respiratory infection due to congestion and inflammation in the nasal passages and throat. Ear pain due to cold can affect the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, leading to discomfort and pain. These tubes help equalize the pressure in the middle ear and allow fluid drainage. During a cold, the Eustachian tubes can become congested or blocked due to mucus and swelling, which can cause a sensation of fullness or pressure in the ears. This can lead to ear pain, discomfort or a feeling of reduced hearing.
In some cases, the congestion and blockage in the Eustachian tubes can also create an environment that favours the growth of bacteria, leading to an ear infection. This is commonly referred to as otitis media and it needs prompt medical treatment and management (Jamal, A., Alsabea, A. and Tarakmeh, M., 2022. Effect of ear infections on hearing ability: a narrative review on the complications of otitis media. Cureus, 14(7)). It can cause more intense and persistent ear pain, along with other symptoms such as fever and fluid discharge from the ear. If you are experiencing ear pain along with a cold, it is always a good idea to monitor your symptoms. Additionally, consider seeking medical advice, especially if the pain becomes severe, persists for an extended period, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. A healthcare professional can evaluate your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Read along to know some of the best tactics that may help alleviate ear pain due to cold:

Warm compress

Applying a warm compress or heating pad to the affected ear can provide temporary relief by soothing the pain and promoting blood circulation.

Steam inhalation

Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water or using a humidifier can help moisten the nasal passages, reduce congestion and promote better drainage (Levi, J.R., Brody, R.M., McKee-Cole, K., Pribitkin, E. and O’Reilly, R., 2013. Complementary and alternative medicine for pediatric otitis media. International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology, 77(6), pp.926-931). This will, in turn, help in managing ear pain due to cold effectively. 

Nasal decongestants

Over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays or oral decongestants can help reduce congestion and open up the Eustachian tubes, relieving pressure on the ears. However, it is important to follow the instructions and consult a healthcare professional if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or if symptoms persist.

Pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and ear pain due to cold. However, it is essential to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if you have any specific medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Stay hydrated

Water makes up around 60% of your body and therefore hydrating yourself is always a great idea. Drinking plenty of fluids helps thin mucus and promotes better drainage, which can alleviate pressure on the ears.

Adequate rest

Sleep helps to improve your immune system and thus getting a good sleep may boost your body’s capacity to fight off the infection in an easier way. 

Sleep position

In many cases, it has been seen that ear inflammations are bad enough to mess with your sleep schedule. You may however find relief from changing your sleep position. For example, sleeping on the opposite side of the affected ear will help you to sleep better while releasing some pressure in your ear in the morning.


Ear pain due to cold can also be managed with eardrops. They may be prescribed by doctors or may also be bought off the counter at the local pharmacy (Mansukhani, R.P. and Patel, A.J., 2021. OTC Cases: Ear Infections. Pharmacy Times, 89(06), pp.24-24). However, ear drops should not be used on children with ear tubes or in the case of children whose eardrums have ruptured.


Ear pain can often radiate through the neck, jaw and teeth. To ease such pain, consider massaging behind the ears as well as down the neck using circular motions with a moderate kind of pressure. Thereafter, work forward to the jaw area and front of the ears while continuing with the firm downward massaging motion.

Remember, if the ear pain persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other severe symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.

  How to tell if my earache is due to a cold or an ear infection?  

In many cases, ear infections may present similar symptoms as earache symptoms due to a cold. In the case of ear infections, the pain will arise more suddenly and in most cases, the pain will also be sharper.

  How much water to drink when suffering from ear pain due to a cold?  

It is important to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water as well as different kinds of fluids as this helps thin the mucus while alleviating pressure on the person’s ears.


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