Earaches and Sore Throats

Because the ears and throat are close in physical proximity, earaches and sore throats often occur in tandem. Typically, a sore throat leads to an earache. So the best way to resolve them both is to treat the sore throat.

When an earache and sore throat occur at the same time, it usually means that the infection began in the ear and then spread to the throat or vice versa. The ears and throat are anatomically connected via the Eustachian tube, which makes them both susceptible to infection. This article will explore the factors that cause earaches and sore throats, as well as the symptoms and treatments for these conditions.

Causes of Earaches and Sore Throats

Because the ears and throat are anatomically connected, there is likely a relationship between the causes of earaches and sore throats. Typically, a sore throat comes first and it is followed by an earache.

  • A sore throat is characterized by inflammation of the pharynx, larynx, or tonsils. Microbial infections are usually the causal agents of sore throats and in most cases they can be treated with over-the counter medicines. A regular sore throat should not last longer than 3 days.
  • Earaches often manifest as infections of the inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear. Unlike sore throats that may self-resolve, earaches may require medical treatment.

Some common causes of earaches and sore throats are given below:

  • Tonsillitis
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eating extremely cold or hot foods
  • Allergies and Hay Fever
  • Vocal cords strains due to overuse
  • Cold, flu, or a cough
  • Infections of the sinus, uvula, teeth, or ears

Complications Associated with Earaches and Sore Throats

Earaches can be complicated by multiple factors. A selection of these factors is listed below:

  • Perforations of the eardrum, mastoiditis, and long-term hearing loss.
  • Abscesses that may spread infection to other areas.
  • Bacterial infections that may develop into rheumatic fever or poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis if they are left untreated.
  • Untreated strep throat can lead to damage to the heart, nerves, skin, and joints, as well as a form of kidney inflammation.

Remedies for Earaches and Sore Throats

As previously stated, a sore throat usually precedes an earache, so the best way to resolve them both is to treat the sore throat. It is often hard to determine the exact cause of an earache and sore throat by a basic examination of the throat and ears. An earache may be mild at times, but on some occasions the pain may become severe and intolerable. The viral and bacterial infections that cause sore throats and earaches can be treated with several home remedies or medications if necessary.

  • The first line of treatment for a sore throat should include drinking lots of non-alcohol beverages, gargling with warm water containing turmeric, and avoiding alcohol, smoking, and hot/cold foods. To soothe the pain you could suck on a throat lozenge or place a warm towel on the affected ear and sore throat.
  • If the pain becomes too much to tolerate, a pain killer such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may be administered. In addition, antibiotics may be administered to aid in the clearance of the bacterial infection.
  • If the pain is severe and persists for more than 3 days, you should seek immediate medical attention from an ear-nose-throat specialist (Otolaryngologist).

When to see a doctor

Children and adult often experience the same type of ear infections which occur due to infection to its related organs such as the nose or the throat. If you are experiencing the conditions listed below, you'd better seek an immediate medical treatment.

  • Hard to swallow anything for over three days
  • Have a fever for over three days
  • Swollen lymph glands and nodes
  • Persistent mouth ulcers
  • Blood appearing in phlegm or salvia
  • Pus and rash on toenails
  • Back and neck tend to be stiff