What to Do When You Have an Earache and Sore Throat

An earache and a sore throat can mean a number of things—but the combination of both may send you to the doctor.

Because an earache can indicate that you are dealing with strep throat or an ear infection, it’s important that you take the two seriously.

To help determine if you have strep throat, it’s imperative that you see a doctor. He or she can also help treat the illness with antibiotics before complications arise.

Here’s everything you need to know about an earache accompanied by a sore throat so you can get back on the road to recovery quickly.

Why Do Your Ear and Throat Hurt?

If you’ve ever experienced ear pain when you swallow, you know how uncomfortable it can be. In severe cases, it can even interfere with things like eating, drinking and talking. Ear, nose and throat infections can all cause your ears to hurt when swallowing, so it’s important to know the signs of each.

How to Know If You Have an Ear Infection?

An ear infection can occur out of nowhere, with no underlying cause, and is typically very painful. It’s common for an ear infection to be accompanied by a cold, the flu, allergy flare-ups or a sinus infection. If you’ve developed an ear infection, you may also experience pain in the ear, fluid in the ear, swelling and the feeling that there is pressure in your ear.

Other common symptoms of an ear infection for adults include pain in the ear, difficulty hearing, drainage of fluid from the ear and a low-grade fever. Most ear infections are a result of bacterial or viral infections in the middle ear, which are more likely to occur in children than adults.

In fact, around half of all infants will deal with a middle ear infection before they turn one year old.

Children’s symptoms will also differ from those of an adult, with a middle ear infection causing loss of appetite, loss of balance, a decrease in sleep, headaches, irritability and crying, a fever, ear pain, drainage of fluid from the ear and tugging at the ear that’s infected.

How to Know If You Have a Nose or Throat Infection?

Nose and throat infections are other possible causes of ear pain when swallowing. When germs are picked up by the nose and mouth, it causes the adenoids (small pads of immune tissue located near the eustachian tubes) to grow. As the adenoids continue to grow, they eventually block the tubes within the ear, resulting in ear pain.

Children are more likely to suffer from ear pain due to a nose or throat infection since adenoids are largest when you’re young.

If you’re dealing with a nose or throat infection, you may experience a dry, scratchy throat, redness at the back of the mouth, swollen glands, throat pain, a cough and bad breath.

How Do You Relieve Ear Pain instantly?

When you’re dealing with ear pain, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Because of this, it’s important that you know how to relieve the pain quickly.

Applying a cold or warm compress, such as a heating pad or a damp washcloth, is a great way to alleviate ear pain. To help get rid of ear pain, cover the ear with the ice pack or warm compress and alternate back and forth between the two. Try to keep each on the ear for at least 10 minutes at a time.

It’s also recommended that you sleep with the affected ear raised instead of placing it against your pillow to help the ear drain better.

Why Does Your Throat Hurt on One Side?

If your throat pain comes from only one side, it could be a sign of a different condition or unique illness.

As your body helps to fight germs (i.e. viruses and bacteria), it can cause the lymph nodes to swell up and become sore—which can result in pain on one side of the throat. Postnasal drip is another cause of throat pain. As mucus and fluid drain down the back of the throat, it can lead to the feeling of soreness, specifically on one side. Inflammation of one or more tonsil, more commonly called tonsillitis, is another common cause of one-sided throat pain. Fever, difficulty swallowing and noisy breathing are symptoms that typically accompany the illness.

If you experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD—a condition in which the contents of the stomach back up into the food pipe—you may experience throat pain as well.

Can You Get Antibiotic Ear Drops Over the Counter?

Although there are over-the-counter disinfectant ear drops available, there is no proof that they are as effective as those prescribed by a doctor. Most over-the-counter medications are more useful to help alleviate the pain and symptoms of an ear infection instead of killing the bacteria that causes the infection.

If you are dealing with ear pain or an ear infection, you should talk with your doctor to determine what prescription is best for you.

When to See a Doctor for an Earache and Sore Throat?

Because ear pain accompanied by a sore throat can be a combination of things, it’s a good idea to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear—especially if you’ve been in contact with someone who’s sick recently.

Once you’ve begun treatment, you may need to return to the doctor if develop a high fever, dizziness, a stiff neck, blood or pus draining from your ear or frequent heartburn.

If you’re experiencing ear pain with a sore throat, consider visiting one of Gateway Urgent Care clinics.

At Gateway Urgent Care, our quality medical care is convenient, with each of our urgent care locations open after hours and on the weekends—when a regular physician’s office is closed.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

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