Earaches during a common cold may be caused by congestion or by a middle ear infection.
When you have a common cold, you can have a build-up of mucus and fluids around your Eustachian tube. This is the connecting part between your middle ear, upper throat and the back of your nose. Usually, this area assists with stopping excess air pressure and fluids from accumulating in your ears. However, when there is congestion from the common cold, this may result in your ears feeling plugged - and can be painful or uncomfortable. Usually, as the common cold subsides, the congestion will lessen, however, it is recommended to monitor this symptom, as it could be the starting place of secondary infections.
If the earache is caused by a middle ear infection, it can lead to pains in the ears along with symptoms that may include, but are not limited to, swelling, redness, hearing difficulties, fever, or even nasal discharge which may be yellow or green in color. This kind of infectious otitis media happens when viruses in your nose and throat enter into your ear through your Eustachian tube. This may cause a fluid buildup in the middle ear - in which bacteria can grow.
Furthermore, having a common cold that hasn’t healed could lead to sinusitis, a sinus infection. This may cause inflammation and discomfort in the forehead region, including in the nose, with pressure being exerted onto the ear. Some possible symptoms of a sinus infection may include, but are not limited to yellow or green postnasal drainage, congestion, difficulty breathing through your nose, facial pain or pressure, headache, toothache, cough, bad breath, poor sense of smell, fatigue, or fever.
Having an earache that is brought on by the common cold means that it may resolve on its own. However, if any of the following symptoms are noticed, it is highly advisable that you seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or healthcare professional, as they may be indicative of a more severe, underlying condition. The symptoms to look out for include, but are not limited to, persistent symptoms that last for a few days, symptoms that progressively worsen, having severe ear pain, fever, hearing loss, including changes in hearing, and earache in both ears.
To assist with healing your earache, it is good to be able to take some rest to support your body’s ability to heal. Keeping hydrated is also important. Specifically, to assist with earache related to the common cold, you can use a hot or cold compress to assist with alleviating pain or swelling with a heat or ice pack. Furthermore, if you have only one ear that is affected, you can try to sleep on the side of the unaffected ear to see if it will decrease some of the pressure that is being exerted on the affected ear.