Earaches and Sore Throats — Causes and Treatments
Earaches and sore throats often occur in tandem. That’s because the Eustachian tubes, which run from the middle ear through the nasal cavity and down the back of the throat, are prone to inflammation and infection due to the presence of excess fluid. Sometimes, the discomfort begins as a throbbing pulse in the inner ear that worsens to a dull ache and then progresses to a stabbing pain that radiates from the ear to the throat.
The painful combination of an earache and sore throat can result from:
- A viral infection, such as a cold or flu
- Hay fever or an allergic reaction to pollen, dust, or pet dander
- Tonsillitis, or inflamed tonsils
- Acute sinusitis, or an infection in the air-filled passageways around the nostrils
- Tooth decay
- Vocal cord strain
- Excessive alcohol consumption or tobacco use
Oftentimes, ear and throat pain will resolve within a few days without treatment. In the meantime, it can be helpful to rest and take over-the-counter throat lozenges, decongestants, or anti-inflammatories as needed. Several home remedies can also be used to alleviate discomfort, such as:
- Gargling with warm salt water
- Drinking warm, soothing liquids, such as tea with lemon, ginger, or honey
- Covering the ears with a warm, moist towel
- Using a humidifier
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest seeking medical attention if an earache and sore throat last for more than a few days, or if there are signs of strep (a highly contagious bacterial infection of the soft palate and tonsillar region that may require antibiotic treatment). The symptoms of strep throat include a severe sore throat accompanied by fever, headache, swallowing difficulties, white or red spots on the tonsils, and swelling in the neck.
If you would like to receive a rapid strep test or medical treatment for an earache or sore throat, you can see a doctor at South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and we do not require appointments.