Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clogged Ears and Congestion... the Fun of a Cold

For most of October I found myself dealing with a cold, and everything that comes along with it: congestion, a sore throat, a cough, and, unfortunately, clogged ears. I don't remember having clogged ears during a cold much before, but recently it seems to happen all the time. I surprised myself with how frustrated I got over it. If you had asked me before, I would have said I surely could handle a little more hearing loss, especially if I knew it was temporary due to sickness. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

I know how to get along with my hearing loss as it is right now - and I think I am just sensitive to changes to it. I had to work extra hard to make sure I could understand people and most of the time I was guessing much more than I typically do. At work, interacting with patrons whose voices were unfamiliar to me, I would try my best to listen for certain keywords (like "renew," "movie," "empty case," "lost book") - words that would allow me to guess the rest of the sentence. Then, I would repeat what I thought the sentence was back to them. Luckily most people tend to say the same things and use the same phrasing over and over. I could probably hear about 30-40% of what they were saying depending on the clarity and quality of their voice. Luckily with my coworkers it was much easier because I know their voices.

Then my hearing aids started acting up. I'm not sure what it was, actually. My ears are no longer clogged and they are no longer acting up so I think it was something related to the cold. It was very strange, whatever it was. One minute they would be amplifying things strangely (I could hear something going on 10 feet to the left of me but not directly in front of me) and the next they would be muting everything down to very quiet levels. That's what really got me, not just the clogged ears. It was kind of interesting at first to pay attention to my hearing and see how things were changing, but when my husband and I tried to make a trip to the mall on a busy Saturday I just got too frustrated to handle everything. I tried to explain what was going on to my husband and it was just too difficult.

I wish there was an easy way to show people what I and other deaf people "hear" on a daily basis. We can try to describe it but there are so few parallels to hearing people that it is difficult. Sometimes I just stay quiet about it for so long that when I do express my frustration it feels silly to explain it has been going on for days. But I am pretty good at adapting to my surroundings. I just deal with it for as long as I can.

Luckily the clogged ears and fluctuating volume levels have gone away with my cold. I wonder if taking a trip to the audiologist would have done any good. I don't know if it was my hearing aids, my brain reacting to the decreased sound levels, or my ears themselves. It might have just been more frustrating than anything.


  1. I've been there, Megan. Glad you are feeling better and your hearing is stable again.

  2. Oh girl, I know what you mean! Going through the same right now.

    If you would've gone to your audiologists and ENT, they might have just given you some anti-biotic medicine. That's what they gave me last time I went in. It really didn't help me out much.

    I'm happy you're feeling better. :)

  3. Megan,

    Just caught your post about clogged ears. I have written several posts on how frustrating clogged ears can be! I have found EarPopper (clinically proven prescription device) to be effective in treating clogged ears- especially when flying. Now I represent the product and reach out to those suffering with clogged ears.

    Clogged ears after congestion from colds or allergies may affect Eustachian Tube function- possibly resulting in hearing loss due to pressure and fluid in middle ear. The key is to help the Eustachian tube open, relieving the pressure.

    I'd be happy to provide more information if you have any questions!

  4. Glad your hearing is back to normal again, I understand how you feel with clogged ears. My one half way decent ear becomes so clogged and full of pressure when I have a cold, I can't even wear my aid.

    Feel better. :-)

  5. Hi Megan...
    Glad to see your ears back to normal.
    I ever feel what your experience. I also often have a hearing loss in cold weather. Therefore, I always bring ear protectors when I go hiking with my friends.
    Maybe you should try to go to the audiologist to prevent it happen again.
    Good luck Megan...

  6. Megan, I can so relate. I can manage my hearing loss in familiar surroundings but find it much more difficult when traveling. I haven't had clogged ears in awhile but I've been working on getting my hearing aids right since I bought them almost a year ago - and now they seem really good! Life is so much better now! I'm glad you are getting over your cold. Have a good Thanksgiving.


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