Q. What causes ringing noise in ear after a cold episode?

Answered by
Dr. Shyam Kalyan. N
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 02, 2019

Hello doctor,

I started having a cold almost three weeks ago which developed from sneezing into a bad cough and now has subsequently cleared up. I also had a blocked ear for almost three weeks but it is now much improved. However, I often hear a ringing noise from it. I saw the doctor a couple of days ago who inspected my ear and said that everything appeared clear now and there was no longer any blockage. Why am I still receiving a ringing noise from my ear and how long does it take to clear up please?



Welcome to

Most likely there might be some fluid accumulation inside the said ear without showing any signs in an otoscopic examination which the ENT would have performed. Such minimal fluids can cause ringing sensation without any hearing loss.

Do you have any fullness now? Is the ringing always there? Is there any gurgling sound or feeling of bubbles inside the ear? How old are you? Do you smoke or drink? Do you suffer from diabetes or blood pressure problem? Do you take any medicine for any chronic illness? In a diabetic and some persons with chronic illnesses the fluid inside the ear does not resolve easily and takes a long time to drain out.

Do you still have any nasal symptom whatsoever? Have you taken any antibiotic during the course of cold that you suffered three weeks ago? Please provide us with all details so that we can guide you.

Thank you doctor,

I do not think the ear is blocked any longer. I notice the ringing the majority of the time, particularly while I move my jaw when l am eating and at night in a quiet room. The ringing started over two weeks ago but I have noticed it much more over the past couple of days. There is no gurgling sound or feeling of bubbles in the ear. I am 55 years old and I do not smoke or drink. I do not suffer from diabetes or blood pressure problems. I also do not take any medicine for any chronic illness.

There are also no nasal symptoms whatsoever as the nose is now fine. The doctor prescribed antibiotic ear drops which I took for seven days as she said the ear was a little red and she thought there was some fluid in the ear. I finished taking the ear drops three days ago.



Welcome back to

I would suggest you do two tests. One is pure tone audiogram and the other is impedance audiometry. The first will tell us if there is any hearing loss of any form. The second will tell us about the condition of the middle ear. I do not understand why the doctor gave you antibiotic ear drops. Nevertheless, I suggest you take a course of antibiotics orally. This is to remove any infection inside the middle ear. Additionally, use a steroid nasal spray which will help remove any blockage of the nasal end of the eustachian tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. If feasible take steam inhalation three to four times daily. The oral antibiotic is needed, though you may feel you do not have any sign of infection like fever, pain or discharge. This makes sure any infection left is addressed promptly.

If the problem is due to the cold, which usually gets referred to the ear through the tube, then after the acute infectious stage resolves, some fluid collection inside the ear is normal and it takes some time to drain out. However, the same has to be confirmed using the two tests that I told you before.

If suppose the problem is anything else, say a neurological deficit in the nerve for hearing occurring due to some insult during the infection, the same also should become apparent in the pure tone audiogram. Hence, the tests are important and will yield us very valuable information. For the impedance audiometry you must visit an audiological centre.

Do revert back with more details and we shall help you. Temporarily, you may listen to some mild music while going to sleep to mask the ringing sound in the ear. Try to note which ear has more of the ringing sound.

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