Can a Cold Affect Your Hearing?

A lady blowing her nose and how this cold can affect her hearing.

Have you ever experienced a cold with heavy congestion, affecting your ability to breathe, blow your nose, swallow or even hear normally?

Colds are often caused by rhinoviruses – invisible droplets in the air we breathe or on things we touch. Scientists have discovered that there are more than 105 different types of rhinoviruses that can attack your immune system and make you sick. But can a cold really affect your hearing?

Sometimes a cold virus causes a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, making it difficult for sounds to travel efficiently from the outer ear to the eardrum. Individuals may notice a clicking sound in their ear, or that conversations and noises are muffled. The congestion may also lead to an ear infection, caused by bacteria or a virus in the middle ear, and lead to temporary hearing loss. The fluid, which may stay in the middle ear for weeks or even months, usually goes away independently, or medications may be prescribed to assist with the healing. Once it is gone, your hearing should return to normal.

Medical professionals advise individuals with a cold to get plenty of rest, avoid vigorous exercise, drink lots of fluids and stay away from others to prevent spreading germs.

A cold can develop into a more serious illness. Contact your physician if these symptoms occur:

  • Coughing up large amounts of mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent dizziness
  • Inability to keep down fluids or foods
  • Facial pain, throbbing headache, or a painful sore throat that interferes with swallowing
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Fever of 101 degrees or higher lasting more than one day
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Earache

When you have a cold virus, do you experience hearing problems? How many days does your cold typically last?

  • Anonymous ,

    I have had hearing [issues] for two days due to my cold, and ears sometimes start to make pounding noises

    • Emily ,

      I have had hearing issues in my left ear for four days since I got a cold. My ear is pounding, and sometimes sharp pains go through it. Why?

      • Cameron ,

        I have had a cold for a couple weeks and my hearing started to decline about a week ago. I can hardly hear a thing and the only thing I can hear is clicking and a constant high pitch noise…

        • Ameritas Insight ,

          Colds do tend to affect our hearing in odd ways. Usually, when the cold runs its course, the other symptoms go away as well.

          • Dalia ,

            Uugh, I’ ve had a sore throat and stuffy nose lately . . . Such torture 🙁

            • Sam ,

              My ears echo and have slight pressure in them. It’s so annoying, they also keep making pounding sounds. On top of that, my hearing has gone down quit a bit.

              • mayur ,

                Is cold can affet my earing.i have being listing to tune in my ear for more than one week is this the reason because of cold .and please tell me the preventive measures

                • Ameritas Insight ,

                  Colds can affect your hearing. You may want to talk to your doctor about solutions or treatments.

                  • Kevin ,

                    i have a sudden hearing loss on my left ear. i have been listening to loud music with my earphone for a week and i also have cold for almost 2 week. what should i do? I’m hearing ringing sound and now experience pain.

                    • Ameritas Insight ,


                      If you’d like a professional diagnosis, we’d recommend seeing an audiologist. Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing problems. Hope you start to feel better.

                      • edwin tamplanza ,

                        Almost 2 months shortness of breath due to cold affecting my hearing prodlem

                        • shaan ,

                          High pitch sound / tune in ear is tinnitus which is very serious, since there are hardly any medicines to cure them. I’ve been hearing this sound since last 3 years. It happened quite a few times in my childhood that my hearing got affected due to cold, but it always returned to normal in say a fortnight or 3 weeks. But this time i had a perforated ear drum caused to a cracker explosion in my hand. The audiogram reported 30% loss of hearing in my right ear, while the shrill sound of tinnitus continued to reduce the efficiency of my brain. I visited an ENT specialistm he referred me to take in Neurokind Forte and then visit him after 6 months. In my 2nd visit after 6 months the 2nd audiogram showed only 5% improvement, so he changed the medicine and suggested me to have Neurokind Next and visit him after 1 year. According to the doctor the immunity of my body was so low that it couldn’t get the ruptured ear drum back into shape which happens generally. However it has been 2 years and i have been continuing with the same medicine and couldn’t visit the doctor due to social business. I was suggested to care of my health in the winters and never to get a cold since it may infect my ear and damage the hearing completely. I took all precautions in the first and the 2nd year but finally I got a loud cold this winter. Congestion has occupied my head, chest and years. It had been 2 weeks of severe cold and the most common medicines i used to drive away cold didn’t seem to work fine. It’s the 3rd week of loud cold and yesterday morning i could feel i lost some hearing in my left year which was mildly effected in the explosion, but it ultimately returned in an hour or two after i reached my office. While my right year has been secreting smelly fluids, sometimes bloody in color or dirty yellow since the last 2 weeks. This morning after getting up from bed I discovered that the hearing in my left ear has gone down again. I could not make out the directions from where the sounds are coming while I was in the traffic and even when i was in the canteen for my lunch. Hopefully this one turns out to be a congestion and clears in a few days, while I am taking amoxilin and planning for a ear drum surgery of my right year from a good doctor. So guys never neglect your ears. They are as precious as the eyes.

                          • MF ,

                            I often lose my hearing totally and sometimes in both ears. I use headphones on loud volume till my hearing returns so i can still hear the tv. My GP said this was ok mor short term use over a month. Thank god it is not permanent.

                            • Michael ,

                              I lost hearing in my right ear yesterday and I don’t know what happened. I hope it’s just the flu that cause this.

                              • Ameritas Insight ,

                                Hope so too. If you have concerns, we recommend seeing your primary care doctor. Feel better!

                                • Dylan ,

                                  I have had hearing loss almost all the time when im sick, is it just me or am i getting the same type of cold every time. Also my left eardrum pulsates sometimes and it feels like a jolt of pain running through my right ear.

                                  • Lindsey ,

                                    I’ve had cold for a month now and hearing loss in both ears for 3 weeks. I’m getting so tired of hearing my heart beat and hearing myself breathe and chew. How can you make it go away without going to the doctor? I’m cleaning them daily and started using homeopathic drops recently. Please help:-( I’m going crazy

                                    • Ameritas Insight ,

                                      To rule out something more severe like an ear infection, seeing a doctor may be the best option.

                                      • Collin ,

                                        I recently got a cold and I think it is affecting my hearing. It feels like I have a lot of pressure in my left ear and it is making it hard to hear. I tried popping my ears, but it wont pop. What the hell can I do to get rid of this?

                                        • Ameritas Insight ,

                                          There are some home remedies that could help; we’d recommend seeing or talking to your primary care physician for his/her recommendation.

                                          • Patience ,

                                            I’ve a cold and it been 2 weeks now. My left ear is deaf. I can hardly hear a thing. The flu is getting better but my ear is getting worse day by day. My nose gets blocked is I sit down or sleep. This is starting to really freak me out now. Will it go away soon?

                                            • Ameritas Insight ,

                                              We’d suggest seeing your primary care physician to get a medical diagnosis. Hope you start feeling better soon.

                                              • Lynda hamnett ,

                                                Iv just started with a bad cold and now my right ear has like a high pitch morse code ringing in it constantly

                                                • Jufe ,

                                                  I woke with a muffled right ear 3 months ago. The Drs told me its labrynthitus as I have had 4 episodes of being really dizzy and unbalanced. Not been able to open my eyes as everything streaming and it’s so scary. I’ve got tablets to help with dizzy spells but now both my ears are muffled. I feel like my head is in a bucket of water. It’s driving me crazy with the pressure and wierd noises going on inside my ears. There is no wax. How long is it going to take to go away. It’s getting worse and been almost 4 months and Drs can’t do anything – just say it’s fluid and my ear drums bulging still since Dec. What can I do ??? I’m getting depressed and short tempered.

                                                  • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                    So sorry to hear about these health issues. Hopefully your doctor, or a specialist, can find a treatment for you soon.

                                                    • Alyssa ,

                                                      I’ve had a cold for about 2 days and I lost my hearing in my right ear during school. I’m only 13 and I don’t think this is normal. I’m Getting really scared and I don’t know if my hearing will come back. Someone please help

                                                      • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                        Sorry you’re having hearing problems. We definitely recommend seeing your doctor to learn more about why you’ve lost hearing in one of your ears.

                                                        • ADDI ,

                                                          Have had a cold for a few days, tried popping my ears, but i can hear everyone else but it is muffled i have tingling in my right ear, WHATS GOING ON?

                                                          • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                            Ear blockage can sometimes happen when you have a cold. If it persists, or bothers you a lot, we recommend seeing your primary care physician.

                                                            • Marcie ,

                                                              Started as a cold and sinus issues….ear started to hurt. Went to doctor who put me on antibiotic because the inner ear was red with infection.. There was still pain after a week so returned to doctor who prescribed Sudafed. Eventually, the pain went away but the lack of hearing persisted in one ear. Went to an ENT after three weeks and he prescribed Flonase, scheduled me for a hearing test and return to him in two weeks. No pain in ear, but still can’t hear. Want to fly to Oklahoma to see my grandkids, now out of school, and doctor says no. I just want to be normal again. Can the problem be more than just side-effects of a cold?

                                                              • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                So sorry to hear you’ve been having these issues. Those problems could be due to more than a cold, but your doctor is going to be the best resource for medical issues like that. Hope your ears begin to feel better soon.

                                                                • mark louise ,

                                                                  Can anybody help me !!! P

                                                                  • F.B. ,

                                                                    I ´ve had a coughing problem that has lasted for about 3 weaks (so far). No other symptoms related to cold or flu. That
                                                                    has caused some hearing loss. What causes the cough is some semi dry mucus that sticks to the throat and difficult
                                                                    to exit. I´ve taken anti-allergy pills and syrup without any results. What should I do?

                                                                    • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                      What can we help you with?

                                                                      • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                        Sorry you’re experiencing some hearing loss. That can be caused by many things so we recommend, if it’s really bothering you and not seeming to go away, that you visit your primary care physician for a professional diagnosis.

                                                                        • Ed ,

                                                                          Can you offer any other sugestions besides seeing your doctor?

                                                                          • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                            Apologies. However, I’m not a medical professional. Seeing your doctor would be the best course of action to get an accurate diagnosis for any medical issues or illnesses.

                                                                            • nydien ,

                                                                              I’ve been to a doctor months ago and consult about my hearing loss (not totally) the doctor told me its bciz of my colds and alergy so he advice me to take Amoxiclav and Sinupret for 7days but after that nothing change… I went back for follow up check up.. Again he prescribe me the same medicine for 7 days again.. And I’ve done all the mdcine but now still my hearing is not clear.
                                                                              Can anyone has the same problem with most mine or can anyone advice my how to cure this..I want my hearing to be normal again. Coz all the people around me is telling me that I’m dreaf bcoz when they are talking to me..they should repeat all what there saying so that I can hear.

                                                                              • 夜味クロメ ,

                                                                                I found out that my earing is off by the time i put on my earphones and was about to listen to music… jeez the sounds are like scrambled in my brain…

                                                                                • Arsh ,

                                                                                  i’ve cough and cold from last 8 days i’ve taken antibiotics but nothing happens ability of my ears of hearing is affected plz suggest me what can i do…….

                                                                                  • Mark Rhey ,

                                                                                    I have colds for 2 weeks and I lost my hearing in my left ear! What will I do?

                                                                                    • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                      Hi Mark,

                                                                                      So sorry to hear you’ve been having this issue. This could be due to more than a cold, but your doctor is going to be the best resource for medical issues like that. Hope your ear begins to feel better soon!

                                                                                      • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                        If you haven’t already, we suggest speaking with your doctor as they will be the best resource for medical issues like that. We hope you feel better soon!

                                                                                        • Leila Clarke ,

                                                                                          I have had a cough type of cold for over a month (and I’m asthmatic), so I’ve had a lot of phlegm, coughing and occasional difficulty breathing. But for the last couple of days, I’ve developed a severe sensitivity to noise (ie. a plate or piece of cutlery clanking on the counter, opening up a bag of kitty nibbles or if I talk too loud). I’m going to go see my doctor since I’m a bit worried and a round of antibiotics did nothing. Any thoughts out there. Oh, I forgot to mention I have tinnitus too.

                                                                                          • Sally Atkinson ,

                                                                                            I’ve had a heavy cold and mucus cough for about a week and a half and now the hearing in my left ear seem to be affected but I can still hear out of it just and it feels sort of blocked, not just that every time I blow my nose my right ear seems screech, I have just recently recovered from an ear infection to my right ear and now this, help.

                                                                                            • suranjit angom ,

                                                                                              I have colds for 2 weeks and i lost my hearing in my left ear, begin for my right sight. what should i do?

                                                                                              • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                Hi Leila, Sorry to hear you’ve been having all of those symptoms. You’ve made the right decision to visit your doctor as they can examine you and recommend a solution to help you get better. We hope you feel better soon!

                                                                                                • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                  Hi Sally, it would be best to schedule a session with your doctor or a local healthcare provider. They’ll be able to examine your symptoms and advise on what you should do. We hope you feel better soon!

                                                                                                  • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                    We’re very sorry to hear about your hearing loss. We recommend scheduling an appointment to be examined by your doctor. They should be able to examine your symptoms and advise on what you should do.

                                                                                                    • Sherry ,

                                                                                                      I’m fifteen and I had thumping in my ear for about three or four days now, I was sick and still have a runny nose and a coughs here and there, my mom won’t take me to the doctor because she believes it’s a head cold so I’m looking online for home treatments and I’m not seeing anything i can do.

                                                                                                      • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                        Hi Sherry, We’re sorry to hear that you’ve been having these symptoms. A doctor or health care provider would be qualified to recommend treatment if you don’t start feeling better soon. Depending on your location, your parents could look into visiting a CVS or Walgreens type clinic if you don’t have a personal physician. Feel better soon!

                                                                                                        • Mel ,

                                                                                                          having a hearing loss is frustrating, asking people to repeat what they said is also annoying, we must do all we can to seek help. I tried John Tracy Clinic and they seem a better approached in solving a hearing problemm

                                                                                                          • Haley ,

                                                                                                            When I blink hard there’s a loud muffle-ly sound and whenever I squeeze my nostrils and blow there’s a high pitched sound in my left ear. The hearing in my left ear isn’t as good as the right ears. I’m not sure if this is normal.

                                                                                                            • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                              Hi Haley, If you’re still experiencing these issues after your cold it may be a good idea to visit with your doctor to discuss.

                                                                                                              • myla ,

                                                                                                                It was sudden when My other ear seems to feel like its filled with water. And some slight pain inside. I can hear but unlike before. Only one ear is not functioning well. I have colds and congested nose last time. But its only today that my hearing decline. Is this severe? Is it really because of my colds? Will it be temporary or am I going to be deaf my whole life?

                                                                                                                • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                  Hi Myla, hearing loss as a result of a cold will typically return to normal once the cold is gone. However, if you’re concerned or still experiencing issues after your cold, we recommend visiting with your doctor.

                                                                                                                  • Mike ,

                                                                                                                    Hi. I’ve had my left ear blocked …full of phlegm? For about 3 weeks.. Cold is gone but it’s still plugged .some of my friends have the same thing. Will it go away or r antibiotics needed ..?

                                                                                                                    • Rae ,

                                                                                                                      My left ear recently became very stuffed and I can’t hear anything from it. There are no pains however but I do think I have caught a cold. If I try to vlow ny nose, nothing comes out but there is congestion in my nasal passage, causing me to breathe through my nose. I haven’t seen a doctor yet, should I?

                                                                                                                      • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                        Hi Mike, We’re sorry to hear that you’re still experiencing some blockage in your left ear. We would suggest visiting your doctor or health care professional to have this looked at. They’ll be able to examine your ear and provide a recommended solution.

                                                                                                                        • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                          Hi Rae, A cold can affect your hearing, so some loss of hearing is sometimes normal. Typically, this will go away as you recover from the cold. However, if you’re still concerned or notice that your hearing doesn’t return to normal after the cold, we would suggest speaking with your doctor.

                                                                                                                          • Elizabeth ,

                                                                                                                            Ugh… I at first developed a little bit of a sore throat for 2 days. Then a full blown cold. Runny nose, congestion, and cough. 3 days later I lost hearing in my right ear and then 4 days later in my left ear. It’s hard to sleep at night because it sounds as I am hearing my pulse or heartbeat in my ears. They aren’t in any pain. It’s going on 4 weeks now. This same exact thing happened last year around this time of year. After 3 weeks of not being able to hear, I got nervous that I might be going deaf, so I finally broke down and went to my primary care physician. He said it was due to allergies and placed me on 4 different over the counter medications. I took them faithfully as directed, but the loss of my hearing still lasted another 3 weeks, so I am not sure that the medications helped any.
                                                                                                                            My question to you is, is if this is the second time it has happened to me, am I going to be prone to going deaf permanently in future?
                                                                                                                            After I did my own extensive research on it, I believe I am suffering from ETD Eustachian dysfunction. Just doesn’t seem that I can find an answer to cure it, prevent it, or answer to will this make me prone to going deaf in future.

                                                                                                                            • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                              Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for reaching out to us about this. Just to be safe, we recommend revisiting with your doctor. They will be best suited to examine you and better evaluate what is going on.

                                                                                                                              • Savannah ,

                                                                                                                                I have had this cold for 4 days and my left ear is just now starting to clog up really bad. I have 25-50% hearing. Can I lose my hearing or am I worrying for no reason?

                                                                                                                                • arun ,

                                                                                                                                  ugh i have a ringing sound in my left ear since a week due to cold air pressure in my ear has blocked and caused the ringing sound how can it be prevented

                                                                                                                                  • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                    Savannah, Typically your hearing will return to normal after your cold clears up. However, if you have any concern we recommend speaking with your doctor.

                                                                                                                                    • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                      Arun, It’s fairly common for a cold to affect your hearing. Typically your hearing will return to normal after your cold clears up. However, if you have any concern we recommend speaking with your doctor.

                                                                                                                                      • anju panjwani ,

                                                                                                                                        I am unable to hear from my right ear I am using soliwax to get the ear wax softened but unable to hear clearly from last few days. please help

                                                                                                                                        • Ivert ,

                                                                                                                                          I have had the same way , I thought this effect happened on the day in my vacation last week but when I had cold I feel this hard hearing this was new to me so I was wondering what would be the best suggestion on this case.

                                                                                                                                          • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                            Hi Anju, We’re sorry to hear that you’re experiencing hearing loss as a result of excess ear wax. If you’re still experiencing this issue, we suggest speaking with your doctor or local health care provider. They should be able to explain your options or may ask you to come in for an ear cleaning.

                                                                                                                                            • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                              Hi Ivert, As your cold improves you will likely notice that your hearing will improve as well. If you continue to experience issues or are concerned, it may be a good idea to contact your doctor to discuss.

                                                                                                                                              • Kit ,

                                                                                                                                                im a boy 11 yrs old and i cant hear in my rigth ear. how do i remove this? i hear pounding sound in 4 days or 5 days.
                                                                                                                                                pls help me!

                                                                                                                                                • Karen ,

                                                                                                                                                  Was on steroids for a week for breathing as a result of a cold, now been deaf in left ear for last to weeks breathing better cough better but cold and deafness still ongoing

                                                                                                                                                  • Adriana ,

                                                                                                                                                    I currently have a cold but how it affects my hearing is different from every other result. It makes my hearing lower in pitch so that every time I hear music, the song is always a note lower than what it’s supposed to be. This is very difficult and scary whenever this happens because I’m a musician, and pitch is one of the most important things to someone who plays or listens to music frequently. It usually goes away once my cold symptoms stop, but I’ve had it for about three days now and it’s very disturbing. What is this??

                                                                                                                                                    • latha ,

                                                                                                                                                      I am having cold and I have throat as well as ear pain and decreased hearing. will this go away after the cold is treated. can I use a ear drop. can u tell me what eardrop can I use.

                                                                                                                                                      • Margo ,

                                                                                                                                                        I suffer from bouts of dizziness after having a burst eardrum. I get Virtigo and deafness, also hear buzzing in the effected ear. I put vicks in hot water and inhale the steam. I also drink lemon and ginger tea and suck menthol sweets all this helps along with chewing menthol chewing gum. I saw a specialist who suggested I buy a sinus wash bottle and sachets from Boots chemist. Also holding your nose shut and swallowing helps to unblock the ear. Also nip the nose shut and gently blow down your nose. It will crackle in your ear and unblock it. I am prescribed betahistomine tablets that help my dizziness and tinatus x

                                                                                                                                                        • Pat ,

                                                                                                                                                          I had a cold for about two weeks, with a lot of congestion (coughing). I was taking a few ibrophen pills per day and I’ve read that this could have contributed to the ear problems. After two weeks of this, I lost about 80% of my hearing in my left ear. After about a week of the hearing loss, one morning I woke up and I had full hearing back. However, during the cold and heavy coughing, I was experiencing that high pitched sound in my right ear. I’ve had days with the constant noise, and days without it (intermittent). I’ve read a lot of these forums and it seems like the ENT’s don’t have the answers. Reading these forums and focusing on the noise makes it worse. I just ignore the noise and focus on other things and often forget its there. At night, it doesn’t seem to make any difference which sleep position I am in. I can wake up without the noise, or wake up with it. I did some light exercise last night (increasing my heartbeat) and woke up with the ringing this morning. They say that clenching your teeth, either during exercise or while sleeping, can bring it on, as well. In terms of sleeping, I simply breath through my noise, very slowly (getting oxygen in) and make a breathing sound in my throat (imagining and matching ocean waves slowly rolling in and then rolling back out) and I fall asleep within a few minutes. I’ve read the list of foods that could contribute and they are all healthy foods for other benefits (berries, broccoli, chocolate, honey, etc.) so I’m not making any changes in diet. Right now, my ears are very sensitive to noise. I feel blessed that there’s no pain and will adjust to the sound and can function just fine. Hopefully, in another few months, the intermittent tinnitus will go away on its own. I’ve read forums where people feel suicidal. Please, don’t focus on it. If you don’t have pain, you can adjust to this, train your mind to ignore it, hope that its temporary, and move on with your life.

                                                                                                                                                          • Ameritas ,

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for reaching out to us about this. Just to be safe, we recommend revisiting with your doctor. They will be best suited to examine you and better evaluate what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                            • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for reaching out to us about this. Just to be safe, we recommend revisiting with your doctor. They will be best suited to examine you and better evaluate what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                              • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for reaching out to us about this. Just to be safe, we recommend revisiting with your doctor. They will be best suited to examine you and better evaluate what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                                • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for reaching out to us about this. Just to be safe, we recommend revisiting with your doctor. They will be best suited to examine you and better evaluate what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Lalit ,

                                                                                                                                                                    I got an ear sergury at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore in 2015. As the doctor said my eardrum was shrunk inside. After sergury my hearing improved a little bit not completely. But from a few days back I again started facing some problem in the same ear, my hearing has decreased again and inside me it feels that I am talking much louder than normal. There is no pain, no fluid secretion. Don’t know what’s going on inside.

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