Why does my ear hurt when I swallow?

Ear pain when swallowing can be extremely uncomfortable and interfere with daily activities such as eating, drinking and talking. There are many reasons why a person’s ears may hurt when swallowing. The three most common causes of this pain are infections of:

– the ear
– of the nose
– throat

In this article, learn about the best ways to treat ear pain that occurs while swallowing. We also describe when to see a doctor.

Is it an ear infection?

Ear infections can be very painful. They can develop for no apparent reason or be the result of an underlying problem.
Ear infections often develop with:

– a cold
– influenza
– a sinus infection
– flare-ups of allergies

Symptoms of an ear infection are:

– swelling
– an accumulation of fluid inside the ear
– pain in the ear
– a feeling of pressure in the ear

In the majority of cases, these are bacterial or viral infections of the middle ear. These infections are more common in children, and about 50% of infants suffer from a middle ear infection before their first birthday.

Symptoms of a middle ear infection

Symptoms of an ear infection can change with age. In children, a middle ear infection can cause:

– fever
– ear pain that may get worse if they lie down
– crying and irritability
– loss of appetite
– loss of balance
– less sleep than usual
– tightness of the affected ear
– discharge of fluid from the ear
– headache.

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In adults, the symptoms are as follows

– pain
– a slight fever
– leaking of fluid in the ear
– hearing problems

Treatment of ear infections

A doctor will prescribe antibiotics if the infection is causing significant discomfort or if symptoms do not improve within a week. Middle ear infections can go away on their own, especially in adults.

Is it a nose or throat infection?

Although an ear infection is the most common cause of ear pain when swallowing, nose or throat infections can be responsible. Adenoids, which are small pads of immune tissue, enlarge in response to germs picked up by the nose and mouth. The adenoids are located near the eustachian tubes. These are channels that connect the middle ear to the upper part of the throat and the nasal cavity. If the adenoids become so large that they block the tubes, ear pain may occur. This phenomenon is more likely to occur during childhood, when the adenoids are the largest.

Symptoms of a nose or throat infection

Regardless of the type of infection, a person may experience the following symptoms

– throat pain that gets worse when swallowing
– a cough
– a dry, itchy throat
– redness at the back of the mouth
– bad breath
– swollen glands in the neck

Other causes

Several other health conditions can cause ear pain when swallowing. These include the following issues:

It occurs when the tonsils are infected. Tonsillitis usually develops as a complication of a throat infection, and the result is a very sore throat.
A doctor can treat the infection with antibiotics.

Peritonsillar abscess

This infection is associated with tonsillitis. If tonsillitis is left untreated, pus can collect around one of the tonsils and cause severe pain. The pain is usually stronger on one side. It can spread to the ear and get worse when you swallow or open your mouth. Some cases require surgery, in which a surgeon drains accumulated pus through an incision. Antibiotics may also be needed.

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Glossopharyngeal neuralgia

The glossopharyngeal nerve is located in the head and neck, and problems with this nerve can cause this rare and painful condition. Symptoms can include throbbing pain around one ear, as well as pain in the throat, face, under the jaw, or on the tongue. Some people can manage symptoms with prescription pain medication, but in extreme cases surgery is needed.

swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear develops when water enters the ear canal, creating a warm, moist environment in which fungi and bacteria can grow. The doctor may prescribe medicated ear drops, and the infection should clear up in 7-10 days.

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction occurs when the joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull is damaged. A person may feel pain when chewing, talking, or swallowing. Pain may also appear in the ears. Treatments include painkillers, hot or cold compresses, lifestyle changes, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and rest. Doctors also advise stopping clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth, if this is a problem.

sticky ear

This condition occurs when fluid builds up inside the ear. Although this condition is usually painless, it can cause temporary hearing loss, and the pressure caused by fluid buildup can sometimes cause pain. Sticky ear may not need treatment, but it sometimes takes months for it to go away completely. If the condition is severe, a doctor may place small tubes called “grommets” in the ear to drain the fluid.

Earwax or object in the ear

An earache can result from the presence of an object lodged in the ear. A doctor should remove any blockage from the ear. Ear drops can be used to soften a buildup of earwax. If the earwax is particularly stubborn, the doctor may need to rinse the ear with water.

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Tooth abscess

A bacterial infection can cause pus to build up in the teeth and gums. This buildup is called a dental abscess. Pain in the affected tooth is the main symptom, but an abscess can also cause pain in the ear. A person should receive treatment as soon as possible. The dentist can drain the pus and remove the abscess, which will reduce pain and other symptoms.

Ear damage

Ear pain can also result from damage. Pushing headphones too far into the ear canal or scratching it with a finger or a cotton swab can cause a perforated eardrum. Most ear lesions heal on their own. A perforated eardrum can take several months to fully heal.

When to consult a doctor

Pain in the ear when swallowing may indicate an underlying condition.
If a person also has any of the following symptoms, contact a doctor as soon as possible:

– high fever
– feeling of heat and chills
– discharge of fluid from the ear
– hearing loss
– swelling in or around the ear
– an earache that lasts more than a few days
– vomitings
– a severe sore throat
– dizziness
– frequently recurring ear infections.

Seek immediate medical attention if ear pain accompanies a long-term condition, such as diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, or neurological disease, or a disease that weakens the immune system.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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