What are the Most Common Causes of an Earache and Sore Throat?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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The most common causes of an earache and sore throat are various viral infections, like influenza and the common cold. Many earaches are caused by fluid draining into the ear canal, although sometimes a secondary infection can also occur. Bacterial infections and allergies can also contribute to these symptoms.

Earache and sore throat are generally caused by some type of infection, and they are often caused by one of hundreds of potential viruses. The throat is most often affected first, and then infection can move into the ears. At other times, the fluid drainage caused within the throat and nasal cavities can lead to fluid retention in the ear canal. This can also lead to earache pain.

Allergies and bacterial infections can also lead to these symptoms. Bacteria can be usually be killed using an antibiotic medication, although this will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection, since some are more resistant to treatment than others. Allergy-related discomfort can often be prevented by avoiding known allergens or taking antihistamine medication.


In the majority of cases, pain from an earache and sore throat will go away once the virus (or other cause) is effectively killed by the body’s immune system. This can take several days. Medications can be taken to make patients more comfortable in the meantime, but there are no medications which kill viruses. Occasionally, additional methods may be needed to drain fluid away from the ears, but this is generally not necessary unless infections are recurrent.

An earache does not necessarily indicate an infection. Fluid buildup in the sinuses, sore gums, or allergies can all lead to pain. Unless these symptoms are very severe or prolonged, it is typically not necessary for an individual to see a medical professional, since most viruses clear up on their own. Coughing and severe chest congestion can be indicative of a more serious infection, however.

Children are most at risk for developing upper respiratory tract infections. This is primarily due to poor hygiene habits and from being in close proximity with other children at school or daycare. Washing the hands regularly, staying away from large crowds of people, and covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing are all important to help avoid catching or spreading viruses and bacterial illnesses.


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Post 2

I hate ear infections. I was one of those kids who had to have tubes in her ears because I got earaches, and strep, and staph, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was a never-ending round.

These days, if I get a sore throat, unless I jump right on it, I can pretty well count on getting an ear infection. It really stinks. If my ears start hurting, I don't wait for any other symptoms. I just go to the doctor. Most of the time, it's bacterial and a round of antibiotics knocks it out.

Post 1

I've found one can lead to the other, since the ears and throat are closely related. If my ears hurt, my throat often will, too, and if my tonsils are swollen, they can put pressure on my Eustachian tubes. They're all connected.

I can almost always tell when my throat is about to get sore, because my ears will start itching, deep inside it feels like. One irritation often begets the other. So, it is logical that, when one has an ear infection, a throat infection may not be far behind, and vice versa.

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