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Causes of an Earache and Sore Throat

By Norene Anderson ; Updated August 14, 2017

Many conditions and diseases cause earache and sore throat pain. Earaches can occur in just one ear or both, and can range from mild, intermittent pain to severe continual pain, depending on the cause. A sore throat can present as a mild irritation or as intense pain in which swallowing and breathing become difficult.

Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis is an inflammation of the cavities around the nasal passages, and can last for up to 8 weeks. Sinusitis lasting more than 8 weeks is known as chronic sinusitis, according to MayoClinic.com. The most frequent cause of acute sinusitis is the common cold; however, other possible causes include fungal infections, bacteria and allergies.

Possible symptoms associated with acute sinusitis include a thick discharge from the nose or down the throat, congestion, earache, sore throat and fatigue. Treatment options include symptom relief, such as saline nasal spray to rinse the nasal passages, corticosteroid sprays to treat inflammation, decongestants and over-the-counter pain relievers.

Larynx Cancer

The larynx, or voice box, is above the windpipe and acts like a valve to allow breathing, speaking and swallowing. Cancer of the larynx, or laryngeal cancer, can develop and affect any area of the larynx, but the most common location is in the squamous cells on the inner walls of the larynx, notes the National Cancer Institute.

Symptoms of larynx cancer vary according to the tumor size and the location within the larynx. Possible symptoms include hoarseness, persistent cough, earache, sore throat, difficulty breathing and a lump in the neck. Treatment options for larynx cancer include radiation therapy alone or combined with surgery or chemotherapy.

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Tonsillitis

The lymph nodes, or tonsils, in the back of the mouth filter out microorganisms and bacteria. Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils become saturated with a viral or bacterial infection that causes swelling and inflammation. Tonsillitis is especially common in children, according to MedlinePlus.

Possible symptoms of tonsillitis include ear pain, a sore throat lasting more than 48 hours, difficulty swallowing, fever and tenderness of the jaw. The nearby lymph nodes in the jaw and neck may be tender and swollen. Tests that can be done by a health care provider to determine the presence of tonsillitis include a throat swab culture and a rapid strep test.

Treatment options include antibiotics for bacterial tonsillitis, rest, fluids and medications for pain and fever. Tonsillitis related to a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, is contagious for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment.

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