Itchy ears and throat occur on account of two main reasons, namely, allergies or sore throat. Itchiness in ears and throat can cause great discomfort to a person, and he may have trouble carrying on with his day-to-day activities because of it. Here are the causes and treatment for itchy ears and sore throat pertaining to the two of its triggers.
How are the Ears and Throat Connected?
We all know the term "ENT" (ears, nose, throat). We also know that they are interconnected. We have sinus cavities in our skull. These sinus cavities lighten our skull and warm the air before it reaches our lungs. These air pockets are connected to our ears and throat. Hence, if your throat gets infected or has any other problem, there is a huge possibility that your ears would get affected in some way or the other, and vice versa.
Allergic Reaction: Itchy ears could be due to an allergic reaction of the body towards some allergens such as dust mites, pollen, certain medicines, particular food items, animal hair, etc. An allergic reaction is the body's response towards some substances which it considers as "invaders". Nobody has yet been able to identify the reason behind the body's such reaction. Besides itchy ears, other symptoms produced due to allergies are sneezing, itchy nose, itchy eyes, tiredness, congestion, headaches and in some cases, a skin disorder known as hives.
Fungal Infection: Fungal infection can be another reason for itchy ears, especially if you are a swimmer. Water carries a lot of dirt and fungus that can infect your ears.
Dryness: If our skin lacks natural oils, it gets very dry and flaky. This dryness causes an itch in the ear. Insufficient wax or excess of wax in the ears, both, can cause infections and itchiness. If you have skin problems, like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, etc., it will encourage itchiness of the ears.
Mucus: Mucus can also be a reason. When the air passage from the nose to our lungs get blocked with accumulated mucus, it leads to infections. As the ear, nose and throat are intimately connected with each other, this infection spreads to our ears resulting in itch and pain.
Hearing Aids: Hearing aids can be another reason for itchy ears. If they are not molded properly or if they are dirty, they can infect our ears. Using pens or pencils to clean your ears can aggravate the problem and also give rise to irritation. Itchy ears are also possible if any insect gets into the ear canal. Generally, ears have a natural cleaning mechanism, which cleans dead cells, dry skin and bacteria by itself. The working of this is, however, very poor, which results in ear problems.
Doctors generally prescribe antihistamines for treating allergies. This is because antihistamines help in stopping the histamines produced by the mast cell throughout the body. Thus, by countering the histamines, these medications help in preventing the allergic reactions. Examples of the widely used antihistamines are diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine.
Natural antihistamines such as green tea, and herbs like chamomile, licorice root and stinging nettle, are quite beneficial in treating allergies too. Alcohol and vinegar can prove to be the best solution to an itchy ear. They thoroughly deal with the infection, eliminating it from its root. Hence, they put an end to the ear itch. Just a drop of olive oil to the ears can help in maintaining soft skin, and soothing dry and flaky skin. For better results, infuse garlic in olive oil. You can also substitute olive oil with baby oil.
For allergy relief, the best cure would be to stay away from the allergens, i.e., the substances that have caused the allergy in the first place. Discontinue eating the food items which trigger an allergic reaction, or ask the doctor to change the medicines that are causing the allergy.
Immunotherapy or allergy shots are also very widely used to treat and reduce the symptoms of allergies. Nasal sprays such as those containing cromolyn sodium or a saltwater solution, help in relieving the allergy symptoms as well as itchy nose, ears and throat.
Viral Infection: Several reasons can result in a sore throat. Of those, the most common reason is cold and flu. Cold is a common type of viral infection. Viral infections also include mononucleosis, influenza, herpangia or mumps.
Bacterial Infection: Bacterial infections can cause sore throat too. They would include tonsil related problems, strep throat, inflammation of the uvula or epiglottis and (very rarely) sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): In Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, the acids in your stomach are pushed back up in your throat through belching or hiccups. This creates a burning and irritating sensation in the throat.
Low Humidity: Dehydration could be a major reason for low humidity. Our throat needs a certain amount of saliva and mucus to maintain proper lubrication. Low intake of water, smoking, pollution, screaming, cough, etc., can dry the throat, leaving it sore.
- If your throat gets itchy, it can be a sign of a sore throat.
- Throat pain, especially while swallowing food or saliva, are other symptoms.
- You could also have swollen tonsils or enlarged glands in your neck or jaw.
- You may also experience cough and a change in voice.
A viral infection causing a sore throat, and the resultant itchy ears and throat, in most cases, gets cured on its own and the person suffering from it, becomes normal in just a few days. For treating bacterial throat infections, doctors generally prescribe antibiotics such as clarithromycin, penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin along with cough syrups. Antibiotics curb the transmission of infection, and help reduce the associated symptoms of a sore throat.
Certain sore throat remedies such as increasing the fluid intake, taking a healthy diet, gargling with salt water, sucking throat lozenges, drinking lemon tea and eating a few cloves of garlic or ginger with honey, help in controlling and curing a sore throat too.
One last tip which will help you to identify whether the irritation is due to an allergy or a sore throat - an allergy unlike a sore throat, is never accompanied by a fever and also the symptoms such as itchiness, tiredness, and sneezing, last much longer in an allergic reaction as compared to a sore throat condition, i.e., even more than two weeks.