ZocdocAnswersCan strep travel into the ears?

Question

Can strep travel into the ears?

A week ago, developed headaches and nausea. Also had clammy sweats, but no fever. (Also may be a result of hormones as I am peri-menapausal). Developed a phlemmy cough after about two days. Cough and sore throat continued through the week. on about the 5th day sore throat cleared up as did sinuses, but I then developed a clogged ear. This ear issue has lasted three days now and there is also ringing in it. I still feel a little drainage in the back of my sinuses. I have attempted homeopathic drop, peroxide and heat compresses and nothing is helping. I did not see a physician as I thought this was just a case of the flu. However, I am no concerned as this is in my ear and may be an infection. Could I have had strep and could it have traveled into the ear. Additionally, can a strep culture and antibiotics still be effective if I no longer have a sore throat and sinus condition?

Answer

Strep throat is a very common cause of sore throat, and it is typically treated with antibiotics. However, strep throat typically causes severe sore throat without a lot of other symptoms - in other words, without stuffy nose, cough, or congestion. The fact that you had sore throat in combination with those other symptoms is much more consistent with a viral infection, like the common cold. When a person gets a common cold or other viral infection, one common side effect is that the tubes at the back of the throat that drain the ears become clogged. This leads to a buildup of fluid in the ear, causing stuffiness. This is called eustachian tube dysfunction, and it sounds like this is what is going on in your case. I strongly recommend that you go to see your primary care doctor at this point. They can examine your throat, nose, and ears and help figure out whether this is just eustachian tube dysfunction, or something else like a sinus infection. Based on what they find on examination, they can recommend a treatment to you, which might be antibiotics in the case of an infection, or decongestants in the case of eustachian tube dysfunction.

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