Sore Throat and Earache: 6 Causes and Treatments

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Sore throat The pain begins as a throbbing pulse before switching to an ache and then to a hurtful stabbing pain that radiates down your throat and in your inner ear.

A sore throat alone can be unbearable, but when you are also suffering from an earache, it can restrict daily activities.

What begins in one section can quickly travel to the other due, in part, to the Eustachian tube that connects the two.

There are several options to deal with your pain from an earache and sore throat, depending on the cause. You may be able to control and alleviate the pain yourself; however, more severe conditions may require a trip to see your doctor.

What are the Causes of Sore Throat and Earaches?

While an earache is usually the result of an inner, middle, or outer ear infection, a sore throat can be caused by effects of the ear infection or another condition. Both can produce mild to severe symptoms, mainly in the form of various levels of pain. A serious issue with a sore throat can impede swallowing or even cause breathing difficulties.

1. Cold or Flu

Sore throats and earaches from a virus infection occur mainly around seasonal changes and during the winter months. Most times, rest and hot liquids will cover the effects until the virus passes. If you have recurring bouts of colds or the flu, it is best to seek medical attention for antibiotics to stop the infection.

2. Ear Infection

May occur from a cold virus or an infected middle ear that comes on quickly, causing a great deal of pain and agony. The infection can cause pressure on the sensory nerve endings, which produces the pain. The infection usually travels to the throat, causing aches. You may also experience a loss of appetite, fever, dizziness or vertigo, hearing loss, fluid discharge from the ear, and sleep deprivation due to the pain. Treatment usually comprises of rest, applying heat to the ear, pain relievers, and antibiotic ear drops and medication.

3. Hay Fever

Your body’s response to allergens of dust, pollen, and pet dander. An itching and sore throat can be accompanied by earaches caused by sinus pressure. Other symptoms include runny nose, fatigue, cough, and sinus pain. Avoiding such allergens and taking antihistamine, corticosteroid, and decongestants will lessen the symptoms until the effects of the hay fever are gone.

4. Tonsillitis

Can cause major pain in the throat region as well as in the ears as it is a result of inflamed tonsils from a bacterial or viral infection. Located in the back of the throat, this disorder can also cause difficulty breathing, swallowing, and sleeping. Rest, fluids, and salt-water gargling are the steps in a viral infection treatment. If a swab test by your doctor determines it is bacterial infection, you will be prescribed antibiotics.

5. Acute Sinusitis

Often caused by cold, allergy, or bacterial infections affecting the air-filled spaces around your nostrils. The sore throat, earache, fatigue, and possible discharge from the nose and ears can last up to eight weeks. Saline nasal spray, decongestants, corticosteroids, and analgesics will help the symptoms during this time.

6. Larynx Cancer

Can give symptoms of earache, sore throat, persistent cough and breathing difficulty. Depending on the stage of cancer, it is treated with radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery.

There are many other less serious causes of an earache and sore throat such as a tooth infection, overuse of vocal cords, consuming hot or cold foods, uvula infection, and excessive use of tobacco and alcohol.

Natural Treatments for Earache and Sore Throat

To relieve a painful sore throat and an accompanying earache, there are several natural home remedies you can try.

1. Gargle warm water every 30 minutes to nip early symptoms. For stronger aches in the ear and throat, gargle every 15 minutes, adding apple cider vinegar or cayenne pepper to the water.

2. Hot liquids sooth a sore throat. You can drink plain warm water, hot lemon tea, or even tea with honey.

3. Massage one teaspoon of olive oil and sandal or thyme oil onto the neck before wrapping it with a scarf. To help the ear, dip a towel in hot water before wrapping it around the head, covering the ears.

4. Ginger has also been used since ancient times to cure a number of aches and pains. You can add ginger to a warm drink or drink ginger tea.

5. Garlic has been used for centuries to cure various ailments. Use two cloves of garlic in drinks or soups to heal a sore throat. For an earache, heat a mixture of one half of a garlic clove and sesame oil and allow it to drip in one ear and then the other after 10 minutes.

When to See a Doctor

You may be able to relieve the pain of a sore throat or sharp ear pain with over-the-counter medications and home remedies but how do you know when you should see a doctor? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest to seek medical help if the sore throat or earache persists for more than two days. Other conditions to be mindful of include:

  • stiff neck
  • fever
  • blood in saliva
  • mouth ulcers
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pus in back of throat
  • hoarseness
  • contact with a strep throat patient

A sore throat and earache are two of the most common symptoms people experience in several disorders and health conditions. If treated early, the pain may be lessened or relieved at home with minimal exposure to Western medications. Several natural remedies have been proven successful for centuries to cure an aching ear and throat.

That said, there are some conditions you will have to seek medical advice for in order to prevent further complications. Be mindful of your symptoms and remember to take plenty of rest for any pain-causing condition.

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