A sore throat is a painful sensation in the throat. In addition, there is often pain when swallowing and coughing. The pain is particularly common with upper respiratory tract infections, tonsillitis, or a cold. The mucous membrane is irritated, damaged and inflamed by viruses, bacteria or other germs. This causes the throat to swell and start to hurt.

Through a connecting tube from the nasopharynx to the middle ear, respiratory infections can spread to the ear, causing ear pain.
Earache is all pain that affects the ear. This means both the outer and the inner ear. The pain can be very different. It is possible that they come and go suddenly or last for a long time. The pain itself can be described as pressing or stabbing and can be unilateral or bilateral.

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Causes of a sore throat and earache

The cause of sore throats and ears are mostly cold or influenza viruses (flu viruses) that attack the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx.
It is also possible that the tonsils are infected by bacteria and cause painful tonsillitis. In both cases there is a sore throat. The immune system immediately starts fighting the viruses. This releases messenger substances. These activate the pain receptors of the tissue and you feel pain and swallowing is perceived as uncomfortable.

In addition, the mucous membranes swell, which is also painful. With tonsillitis, the tonsils enlarge because more immune defense cells are needed in them. This enlargement is uncomfortable in addition to the pain when swallowing.

The bacteria or viruses in the pharynx that cause pain can pass through a connection from the throat to the ear (Eustachian tube) cause inflammation in the middle ear and cause ear pain. The mucous membranes also swell in the ear. It is even possible that the eustachian tube swells and that drainage and ventilation are no longer possible. This is causing pain.
A bacterial infection in the ear can cause pus to accumulate. This is also responsible for pain. Often it cannot drain and an aching earache develops. If there is a possibility of drainage (tear in the eardrum), the pain immediately decreases.

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Read also: Causes of Sore Throat


Pathogens can enter the body through the mouth and nose. They have to pass through the tonsils and can cause acute tonsillitis (Tonsillitis) let arise.
Various bacteria and viruses can multiply particularly well in the tissue of the tonsils. The inflammation can be caused by bacteria or viruses. The throat and swallowing are sore, these pains increase when you yawn or cough. Mostly the lymph nodes on the neck are swollen, the tonsils are covered with white-yellow dots (pus), enlarged and reddened and the Body temperature can rise slightly. It is also possible that the pain extends into the ears or that the pathogens in the ear also trigger an inflammation. If tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, it will be treated with an antibiotic.

You might also be interested in: Signs of tonsillitis

Otitis media

Otitis media (Otitis media) is often caused by a previous bacterial or viral infectious disease from the respiratory tract.
The bacteria or viruses rise from the nasopharynx to the middle ear and trigger an inflammation of the ear mucosa there. Babies and toddlers most often suffer from otitis media because the connection from the nasopharynx to the ear is still very short. This anatomical fact enables the pathogens to spread rapidly.
A stabbing unilateral or bilateral earache, a feeling of pressure and throbbing in the ear are typical of otitis media. The eardrum is red and bulging. In addition, there is a general malaise, hearing loss and headache.

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Read also: Therapy for acute otitis media

Concomitant symptoms

difficulties swallowing

If the throat, pharynx and middle ear are inflamed by pathogens, difficulty swallowing often occurs as an accompanying symptom. Especially with inflamed tonsils, those affected suffer from difficulty swallowing. The tonsils are enlarged and are particularly sensitive due to the inflammation. For this reason, when swallowing large portions or hard foods (e.g. bread crusts) one has swallowing problems or pain when swallowing.

In the case of an acute sore throat, the first signs of illness are often a dry feeling in the throat, a burning sensation or scratching, which is intensified when swallowing. This can go so far that you develop a foreign body sensation in your throat when you swallow. This makes swallowing difficult and requires frequent throat clearing. If the typical sore throat occurs, these are usually aggravated during the swallowing process.

In summary, it can be said that it is extremely rare that an inflammation in the throat, throat or ear heals without discomfort or pain when swallowing.

Find out more about the topic here: Sore throat when swallowing

a headache

Headaches as an accompanying symptom with a sore throat and / or ear infection are not uncommon.
Those affected complain of a booming headache. Furthermore, it is often described that the head feels like "too". Scientists suspect that the headache is not caused by the infection that causes the ear and sore throat itself. The assumption goes in the direction that the inflamed mucous membranes of the nasopharynx are responsible for the headache. As a rule, the accompanying headaches subside as the main symptoms go away.

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If patients suffer from sore throats and ears, they are mostly affected by a cold. In this case an increased temperature (37.5-38.5 ° C) appear as a side symptom. With a lot of sheep and rest, as well as tried and tested home remedies, the cold and with it the fever will subside very quickly.

It is also possible that you have a real flu (Influenza), in which ear and sore throat are also the focus. In this case, however, the fever is also a main symptom and can rise to 39 ° C or more. The high fever makes a doctor's visit advisable.
Just like the common cold, the fever usually subsides as the other symptoms go away, or even sooner.

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Sore throat and ear pain are mostly caused by pathogens that settle in the mucous membranes and lead to inflammation of the airways.
In addition to the sore throat, there is often a cough. Often times, the inflammation begins with a dry feeling and a sore throat. This can turn into a mucous throat due to the increased secretion of mucus. Most of the time the mucus is coughed up ("productive cough "). The color of the slime can provide information about the pathogen.

  • A greenish-yellowish mucus indicates a bacterial infection.
  • A light, clear slime, on the other hand, suggests a viral cause.

It is also possible that both forms of mucus appear during the course of the disease. Mucus production goes down once the mucous membrane has recovered and the inflammation has subsided.

Find out more about this:

  • Superinfection
  • Pain when coughing


Medical therapy is rarely carried out for sore throats and ears. One of the reasons for this is that it is usually a viral infection that does not have an antibiotic effect. If the person concerned is only slightly ill (there are hardly any symptoms besides the sore throat and ear pain), they will usually recover so quickly on their own that therapy could hardly achieve any improvement.

However, you should take it easy and rest during this period of illness. If the disease is caused by bacteria, the doctor can administer an antibiotic as therapy. Often penicillin is used used. When treating with an antibiotic, it is important that it is taken for as long as the doctor has prescribed and not just until the sore throat and ear have subsided, in order to avoid the disease flaring up again.

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Is the sore throat very severe or if z. B. If tonsillitis is present, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be taken. Usually with Ibuprofen®, Aspirin® or Paracetamol® treated. These drugs are also used to treat the concomitant fever. However, these drugs are usually only used to treat symptoms and not to treat the cause.

Learn more about the topic at: Sore throat - what to do?

These home remedies can help

There are many herbs and essential oils that are useful for relieving sore throats and ears, reducing inflammation, and being beneficial.
Many of these home remedies are well known and are therefore based on experience. As a general rule, drinking a lot is helpful for a sore throat - especially if the lining of the throat is dry and it is difficult to swallow. The mucous membrane is moistened and can thus better remove pathogens. One should not use cold drinks, but warm ones, such as teas. They supply blood to the mucous membrane, which means that pathogens can also be better transported away.

If you want to sweeten tea, honey is known as a remedy. Honey is anti-inflammatory and promotes wound healing. The sage plant is very popular. Ingredients of it have an antibacterial effect and inhibit the growth of viruses. In addition, sage has a decongestant and pain reliever due to essential oils. It is advisable to process the sage into tea. You can drink it, but you can also gargle with it. It is also possible to chew sage leaves in your mouth.

Chamomile is particularly popular for treating sore throats. It is strong anti-inflammatory, promotes the healing of the mucous membranes and reduces pathogens. The chamomile plant should be used to make tea to drink or gargle. Ginger teas are also recommended. Ginger contains an ingredient that stimulates blood circulation and supports the immune system. In addition, it has a calming effect on irritated mucous membranes. With the ginger tea you can gargle just like with the other teas or drink them warm.

Various essential oils are also great for a sore throat, such as the antibacterial mint oil. As soon as a home remedy reduces the pathogens in the throat, the fight against inflammation in the ear is also served. The following home remedies are recommended especially for the ears. The onion sachet is said to have an antibacterial effect due to certain ingredients of the onions. A piece of onion is cut very small, distributed in a cotton cloth, warmed and then placed on the ear.

More information is available here:

  • Home remedies for a sore throat
  • Gargling for a sore throat


Sore throats and earaches are very common, which is why some sufferers shy away from strong drug treatment and prefer to resort to homeopathy.
In homeopathy, so-called globules are administered. These are granules made of sugar on which the homeopathic active ingredient is supposed to adhere to the outside. Homeopathy is a very gentle alternative medicine, with which there are hardly any side effects.
The administration of globules while suffering from a flu-like infection that causes a sore throat and ear is supposed to activate the body's self-healing powers. Accordingly, homeopathy does not specifically fight the pathogens that sit on the mucous membranes, but stimulates the body to heal itself. For this reason there are many different globules.
If you have a severe sore throat with an earache, belladonna is used (Active ingredient of deadly nightshade) preferably administered. It is advisable to take around five globules several times a day.

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You may also be interested in this topic: Homeopathy for a cold

When do I have to see a doctor?

If you suffer from very severe sore throats and ears that do not improve after a few days, it is advisable to see a doctor.
This also applies if a severe fever sets in. In addition, it is important to see a doctor if the tonsils in the throat are very inflamed (large and red). If you get other symptoms that affect the whole body in addition to throat and ear pains, you should also see a doctor.


Diagnosing a sore throat and ear is usually quite simple.
As a rule, an interview with the patient and a general examination are sufficient. The doctor will feel the neck for swollen and painful lymph nodes. The doctor will also look inside the patient's mouth to find the pain-causing location. This can be the tonsils, throat or larynx, for example.
If there is inflammation, the corresponding region is swollen and reddened. If an earache is associated with a sore throat, the doctor usually limits the examination to looking at the ear canal and eardrum with an otoscope (ear mirror). Eardrum injuries and signs of inflammation in the ear canal and middle ear can be seen.

Duration of pain

The duration of the sore throat and ear pain depends very much on the severity of the disease and how it has spread.
If a sore throat occurs on its own, it usually goes away within a week. It is only possible that there may be a scratchy throat for more than a week. If you have an earache in addition to the sore throat, possibly even with an otitis media, the pain can take up to two weeks to subside if the inflammation is treated properly.

Read more about this at: Duration of sore throat

Sore throat and earache during pregnancy

Sore throats are very common in Germany, which is why pregnant women can often be affected.
During pregnancy, the body is particularly susceptible to infectious diseases. This is because the body uses a lot of energy and many functions of the immune system to protect the baby. Because of this, pathogens (viruses and bacteria) can enter the body more easily. To avoid infection, pregnant women should not come into contact with infectious people. Especially during the flu season in winter, it is advisable not to be in contact with such large crowds.

As a rule, sore throats and ear pains do not pose a threat to the unborn child. However, if the pain is very severe, it is advisable to consult a doctor and to avoid independent treatment. The doctor can advise pregnant women not only on medication, but also on home remedies. Since these are particularly suitable for pregnant women.

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