What Causes Sharp Throat and Ear Pain?

a child receiving a hearing examination

If you suddenly start experiencing sharp throat and ear pain, it can be extremely worrying. You will want to get to the bottom of what is causing it as soon as possible so that you can treat it and get on with your life quickly and painlessly. 

One of the most common reasons for sharp throat and ear pain in the common cold. In the majority of cases, these will pass within a few days with a bit of self-care at home treatment and relief. However, there may be other underlying reasons which may cause longer-term pain in the ear and throat, and if this is the case, you may need the advice of an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. 

Symptoms that you may want to keep an eye out for include:

  • Fluid coming out of the ear
  • A sensation of fullness in the ear
  • Muted or muffled hearing
  • Swollen glands in jaw and neck
  • Pain when talking and swallowing
  • Dry, scratchy throat
  • Pain in ears and throat

What may be causing these symptoms?

As we mentioned above, the most common cause for these is the common cold. Generally, this will leave you feeling a little unwell for a few days but will pass quickly and without any additional treatment. You may want to take over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the discomfort and bring down the fever that quite often accompanies a cold.

There are other things, however, that can cause ear and throat pain, that are a little more serious than the common cold and need further treatment or exploration. These include:

  • Tonsillitis: This is a relatively common illness, especially amongst children. It causes severe throat pain, especially when swallowing and can be accompanied by a fever and swollen lymph nodes. It is caused by bacteria or a virus. While uncomfortable, it usually goes away with a course of antibiotics, but ongoing problems should be looked at by an ear, nose and throat specialist.
  • Allergies: Pollen and dust in the environment can cause a dry and scratchy throat and sore ears. This is usually caused by the inflammation of mucus membranes and is normally accompanied by sneezing, watery eyes and nasal congestion.
  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux is a condition whereby the contents of your stomach and stomach acid rises back up into the esophagus. It is usually worse after a heavy meal and when lying down. It can cause heartburn and a sensation of there being a lump in your throat. Anti-acids can be helpful, but if you are persistently experiencing heartburn, it is worth getting it checked out. 
  • Mono: Common in teenagers and younger adults, mono is an extremely infectious viral disease. While for some people it can be relatively mild, for others, symptoms can be severe and continue for a long time. Initial symptoms of mono include fullness in the ear, weakness and muscle fatigue. 
  • Strep throat: This is a contagious illness caused by bacteria and appears very quickly and can be very painful. It is accompanied by a fever and small red spots on the roof of the mouth.
  • Sinusitis: Sinusitis is an uncomfortable condition that can last for a while. The drainage of mucus is affected, leading to pain in the ears, nose and throat, aching in the teeth and jaw, cough and bad breath.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ): TMJ affects the joints in the sides of the jaw and causes pain and reduced movement in the jaw. The cause of it is unknown, and may experience popping or cracking sounds coming from the jaw, facial pain and chronic, severe headaches.

This is not the full list of things that can cause sharp throat and ear pain. If your symptoms persist for longer than a couple of weeks, it is advisable to seek advice and treatment from an experienced ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor or specialist. 

To find out more about what can cause sharp ear and throat pain, and discuss treatment and solutions, get in touch with the ear, nose and throat team at Lents Medical Group, Louisiana Ear Nose Throat & Sinus specialists. You can contact us at: 

  • Baton Rouge LA (Bluebonnet Blvd): (225) 888-8630. 
  • Baton Rouge LA (Dijon Drive): (225) 769-1090,
  • Denham Springs LA: (225) 243-4211,
  • Zachary LA: (225) 658-4334, 
  • St. Francisville LA: (225) 769-1090