What Causes Earache and Sore Throat? How to Help

Earache and sore throat can indicate various conditions like middle ear infection, allergy and many others. Identify your cause first then treat it accordingly.

Earache and sore throat can affect your daily life in many different ways. It becomes even difficult to manage things when you have to deal with both these problems simultaneously. When you have infections in your throat, you may also develop an infection in your ear. That is mainly because the Eustachian tube connects your ear with throat. Many medical conditions can cause ear and throat infections. Keep reading to find out more about the underlying causes and the ways to treat these disorders.

What Causes Sore Throat and Earache?

A number of issues can lead to irritated throat and painful ears. Some of the most common causes of sore throat with earache are mentioned below.

1.        Infection in Upper Respiratory Tract

Usually caused by viruses, respiratory infections refer to the infection of the sinuses, airways, or lungs. Some people may develop bacterial infections that can be more complicated. Common upper respiratory tract infections are tonsillitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, common cold and the flu.

Accompanying symptoms:

When you develop an upper respiratory infection, you will experience severe cough. Other common symptoms are a stuffy nose, headaches, sneezing, muscle aches, and a sore throat. If you are experiencing earache due to cold, the pain will be quite sharp most of the time. Some people complain about burning pain that can be mild or extremely painful. You may also run a fever, have difficulty sleeping, and have yellow or green mucus in the nose. The pain will go away on its own after a few days.

2.        Middle Ear Infection

Your earache is usually the outcome of being exposed to a cold virus, but you may experience pain when your middle ear becomes infected. These infections take place suddenly and are usually quite painful in the beginning. The pain is usually due to the pressure exerted on the sensory nerve endings in the eardrum. The eardrum may stretch a bit after some time that helps ease up pain a bit.

Because it's an infection which may travel to the throat, you'll have sore throat and earache at the same time. You will also experience some other symptoms when you have an ear infection. For instance:

  • Loss of appetite: This is more apparent in young children.
  • Poor sleep: The pain in the ear can be quite severe in the beginning that will interfere will your sleep.
  • Fever: You may run a fever as high as 104F due to an ear infection.
  • Drainage from the ear: You may notice bloody, brown, yellow, or white fluid draining from your ear when an infection is present.
  • Vertigo: You may feel as if things are spinning and that is a sign of ear infection.

Many people also experience difficulty hearing, which is usually due to fluid buildup in the middle ear.

3.        Acute Sinusitis

The air-filled spaces around your nostrils may get inflamed and cause sore throat and earache. The pain can last up to 8 weeks, but sometimes it will persist. If it continues for more than 8 weeks, you have chronic sinusitis. Exposure to bacterial agents and allergy are the main causes of acute sinusitis. The most common symptoms include fatigue, headache, sore throat, earache, and thick discharge from nostrils or ear.

4.        Hay Fever (Allergy)

Hay fever is basically allergic response of the body to the pollen, dust, or pet. The most common symptoms are running nose, sinus pressure, cough, pain, fatigue and itching. The best way to prevent hay fever is to limit your exposure to those irritants or allergens. You may also have to take antihistamine, corticosteroid, nasal Ipratropium, and decongestants to relieve symptoms.

5.        Larynx Cancer

Persistent cough, sore throat, earache, and difficulty breathing may well be the signs and symptoms of cancer of the larynx. The treatment options include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy depending on the stages of cancer.

6.        Other Causes

In addition to these causes, there are some others as well. You may have a sore throat and earache due to a tooth infection, vocal cords overuse, swollen glands, pollution, microbial infections, and uvula infection. Eating very cold or hot foods and excessive alcohol consumption may also irritate your throat.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to see your doctor if your earache and sore throat are severe. You should also consult a doctor if you find it difficult to swallow anything, have a fever for more than three days, and develop mouth ulcers. Swollen lymph nodes, blood tinged salvia, and stiff neck are other signs that you should talk to your doctor about your condition.

What to Do About It?

There are many different treatment options for sore throat and earache, but you have to identify the underlying cause for a permanent treatment. Here are some treatment options for you to consider:

  • Heat: Applying a heating pad on your ear for 20 minutes or so will help relieve pain. Simply placing a warm, moist washcloth over your ear will also help.
  • Over-the-counter medications: You can take OTC pain medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin to relieve both earache and sore throat. Do not give aspirin to children.
  • Saltwater gargle: Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and use it for gargling. This will help reduce irritation and swelling in your throat. Do not swallow the solution. Do not give it to children who don't understand that they should not swallow the solution.
  • Warm liquids can help to relieve your sore throat. Try lemon tea, honey or just warm water to get relief.
  • Garlic in tea or soups can help to alleviate sore throat. To help with your ear, heat some sesame oil and one and a half garlic clove. Then drip the mixture in your ear to get relief.

What Others Have Experienced

"A sinus infection has made life difficult for me. My doctor has prescribed an antibiotic but it has not kicked in yet. I am now dealing with very severe earache and sore throat. Even gargling with honey, salt water, and chloraseptic has not helped. Looking for a better treatment option now."

"In two day's time, I need to be out on vacation with my family but I am having trouble with a sore throat and earache. My ginger tea with honey in it has not worked much. I poured sweet oil in my ear and that seems to work. I will now be using 2 garlic cloves in 500ml water. Hopefully that will resolve the issue."


Ear Pressure: Causes and Treatments

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