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Earache and Sore Throat

In the majority of the people, the sore throat is accompanied by earache and vice versa. The earache and sore throat can be on left side, right side (that is it can be only on one side or both sides). This is because the throat and the ear are found at a close distance from one another, plus they communicate through the Eustachian tube. When a person suffers from an infection at the level of the throat, it is important that the treatment also involves the ear. Otherwise, the infection is going to re-appear and cause serious complications.


Earache and Sore Throat – What does it mean?

When one suffers from a sore throat, the inflammation is present at the level of the pharynx or larynx. The tonsils might be inflamed as well, especially if the infection is caused by the streptococcus strain. Bacterial infections that lead to a sore throat require antibiotic treatment. In general, the symptoms begin to improve within a period of three days but the treatment has to be taken for a longer period of time, so as to eliminate the bacteria from the throat completely.

As for the earache, this can be present at different levels, such as the outer ear, middle ear or inner ear. These earaches can be a sign of serious infections and they require intense medical treatment, so as to avoid potential complications that might lead to hearing loss.

Symptoms of Earache and Sore throat

These are the symptoms that can accompany the earache and the sore throat:

  • Headache (from moderate to severe)
  • General state of fatigue
  • Muscular weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Lack of appetite (with subsequent weight loss)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Purulent mucus
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficult breathing
  • Palpable mass at the level of the neck (sign of cancer)
  • Fever (from moderate to severe)
  • Loss of balance (ear problem)
  • Hearing loss (partial or complete, depending on the severity of the infection)
  • Watery eyes (allergy)
  • Clear discharge from the nose (allergy)
  • Itchiness
  • Pressure at the level of the sinuses.

What Causes Earaches and Sore throat?

These are the most common causes that might lead to earache and sore throat:

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  • Inflammation of the tonsils
  • Allergy (such as hay fever)
  • Excessive usage of vocal chords (shouting, singing)
  • Common cold
  • Seasonal flu
  • Chronic coughing
  • Sinusitis (acute or chronic)
  • Dental problems (infection, abscess etc.)
  • Eating foods that are either too hot or too cold
  • Chronic smoking
  • Prolonged or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Cancerous growth at the level of the larynx
  • Infection at the level of the uvula.

Complications

In the situation that no treatment is sought for such health problems, it is possible that the ear infection is going to progress, leading to the perforation of the eardrum or to mastoiditis (inflammation of the mastoid bone). In some situations, the infection can spread to other areas, leading to the formation of abscesses. A major concern is present for the bacterial infection, as this can lead to serious complications, such as glomerulonephritis or rheumatic fever. The strep throat can cause a number of serious complications, including heart damage, chronic kidney disease (with associated inflammation) and joint problems.

Treatment

These are the most common treatments recommended for the earache and sore throat:

  • Antibiotics
    • Oral or intravenous administration (depending on the severity of the infection)
    • The antibiotics have to be taken for as long as they are prescribed, otherwise the bacteria will develop resistance to the treatment
    • Probiotic supplements are administered at the same time with the antibiotic treatment, so as to maintain a healthy intestinal flora
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
    • Recommended as symptomatic treatment
    • Can reduce the inflammation and bring the necessary relief from the pain
    • Indicated choices – naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen
    • This medication has to be administered with caution in those who suffer from chronic liver disease (as it is processed through the liver)
  • Analgesic medication
    • Recommended in patients who suffer from more severe infections and who experience intense pain
    • Cannot be administered for prolonged periods of time, due to the risk of dependence
  • Antihistamines
    • Recommended in patients who suffer from different allergies
    • Can reduce the inflammation and also improve the other symptoms experienced by the patients
    • Can be administered in a low-dose for prophylactic reasons (prevention of future allergic episodes)
  • Nasal decongestants
    • Can be used in order to reduce the inflammation of the nasal mucosa and improve the breathing capacity
    • Cannot be used for prolonged periods of time (risk of dependence)
  • Saline nasal spray
    • Used for the same purpose as the nasal decongestant (better breathing capacity)
    • Also has disinfectant properties, eliminating the bacterial population from the nasal mucosa
  • Ear drops
    • Symptomatic treatment for earaches
    • Can also include antibiotics, in order to treat the bacterial infection
  • Corticosteroids
    • Recommended in more serious infections
    • Can reduce the inflammation and bring the necessary relief from the pain
    • Cannot be administered for prolonged periods of time, because of the potentially negative side-effects over one’s health
  • In case of laryngeal cancer:
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiation therapy
    • Surgical removal (if possible).

Natural Remedies for Earache and Sore throat

These are the remedies that can be considered for such problems:

  • Drinking warm liquids
    • Recommended – unsweetened herbal tea, clear soup
    • No alcohol or caffeine-based drinks (increase dehydration)
    • Purpose – stay hydrated and eliminate the scratchy sensation when trying to swallow (may also help with the inflammation)
  • Saline solution gargling
    • Lukewarm water mixed with salt
    • It is recommended that you gargle with the saline solution several times per day
    • Disinfectant properties
  • Lozenges
    • Sucking on lozenges is one of the best remedies to improve some of the symptoms caused by the sore throat
  • Warm application
    • A warm towel can be applied over the suffering ear, in order to promote a faster healing process
  • Garlic
    • Beneficial antifungal and antiviral properties
    • Sore throat – garlic soup
    • Earache – garlic + sesame oil (topical administration)
  • Ginger
    • Natural anti-inflammatory properties
    • Can also bring relief from the pain caused by the sore throat.

When to see a doctor?

In the situation that the symptoms of the sore throat do not improve over a period of three days, it is recommended that you pay a visit to the doctor. The same goes in the situation that you experience high-running fever, which cannot be relieved through the administration of symptomatic medication. The inflammation of the lymph nodes is suggestive of a more serious infection, as well as the persistent ulcerations at the level of the mouth or coughing up bloody phlegm. These are all signs that you should go to the doctor and get treatment, before serious complications appear.

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