ZocdocAnswersWhat is causing my sore throat and earache?

Question

What is causing my sore throat and earache?

Hi, I had a common cold last month along with a sore throat, but my cold has been gone for over 3 weeks. Now I have had pain in my left ear and a sore throat on the left side for about 1 month off and on. It is worse at night and the mornings. I was prescribed nasonex (2 sprays per nostril twice a day) and also told to use saline nasal spray (2 sprays x 4 times per day). My symptoms have not improved after using the medicines for over a week. My throat culture came back negative and my primary care doctor said he didn't see anything abnormal in my throat or ears except for a little redness and a small amount of fluid in my ear. What do I have and how is it treated?

Answer

There is a saying in medicine that common things are common. If that saying is true, then it is most likely that you have had a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (also known as a URI) that is taking its time to resolve. I recommend you speak to your doctor about this issue. Most often, these infections will be the cause of the fluid in the ear, as there is some swelling of the Eustachian tube (the path of drainage from the ear to the back of the throat) which prevents it from draining. When this happens, there is otalgia (ear pain) that can be either from the ear itself or from another site in the head or neck that is inflamed because of the recent infection. The ear is very sensitive to this sort of thing because of the excellent innervation that it receives from so many different nerves in the body. Your doctor sounds like he or she has prescribed the appropriate medications and has made all of the right steps thus far. The next step, if your symptoms don't resolve, is to continue working with your doctor to find out why not. An ear nose and throat surgeon may also be able to help. Please speak to your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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