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How to Relieve Itchy Ears and Throat from Allergies

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Most of us would have experienced the feeling of our ears being blocked as we ascend a hill while on a journey, whether on land or air. This feeling is resolved when you swallow either saliva or a drink or when you blow on blocked nostrils.

The example above gives you evidence of the connection the ear has with both the throat and nose and why an infection or abnormality in one part may affect or be felt in the other.

Itchy ears and throat is one of those symptoms felt when there is a problem in the ear, nose, or throat. Itchy ears are fairly common but thankfully result from conditions that are not serious or life-threatening, most of the time.

Causes of Itching in the Ear and Throat

itchy ears and throat
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There are a lot of factors that contribute to itchy ears and throat. some of them include, but are not limited to:

1. Allergic rhinitis (Hay fever):

It results when the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen in the environment. Examples of these allergens:

a) Smoke

b) Perfume

c) Laundry detergent and cleaning products

d) Mold

e) Pet (cats or dogs) dander

f) Dust mites

g) Pollen

Allergic rhinitis causes:

a) Itchy ears and throat

b) Itchy or watery eyes

c) Runny or blocked nose

d) Sneezing

e) Loss of smell

f) Headache

2. Food and drug allergies:

Certain food substances and drugs cause reactions when taken. These reactions include:

a) Itching of the throat

b) Skin rash

c) Wheezing

d) Trouble breathing

e) Swelling of the face and/or throat

f) Loss of consciousness

3. Common cold:

Common cold usually result from infection with a virus and is often times seasonal in occurrence. Symptoms of the common cold include:

a) Sore throat

b) Itchy ears and throat

c) Runny nose

d) Sneezing

e) Body aches

f) Sometimes, fever

g) Headache

4. Ear wax blockage:

Ear wax serves the important function of cleaning the ear. It is waterproof and known to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which prevent infection from occurring in the ear. However, while trying to clean the ear, the ear wax may be pushed backward with subsequent accumulation and blockage of the ear.

The resulting blockage might become infected by bacteria or fungi, and it is this infection that will subsequently result in itchy ears and throat. In a worst-case scenario, ear discharge. Over cleaning of the ear would also remove that protective function of the ear wax and predispose it to infection and itching.

5. Seborrheic dermatitis:

This occurs from blockage of the sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) found in the skin. In mild cases, the skin begins to flake, leading to the condition known as dandruff. In severe cases, the affected skin becomes inflamed and reddish in colour with worsening of the itching.

6. Irritation from ear buds, air-pods, and hearing aids:

Irritation from these items may result from a reaction to a component used to make them or from infection contracted from them when these items are not properly cared for and become unclean, hence leading to itchy ears and throat.

7. Skin disorders:

Skin disorders that cause itching could also affect the ear and throat and cause itching in them. Some common skin disorders include eczema & psoriasis. In eczema, patches of the skin become inflamed, reddish in colour, and itch.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease (i.e., the body’s immune system attacks itself) that also causes inflammation, redness of the skin, and itching. Liver or biliary disorders that cause accumulation of bile in the body (jaundice) may also cause itching of the body and, in extension, the ear and throat.

8. Diabetes

In diabetic patients, the immune system is depressed, and this predisposes it to infection, which could occur in the ear or throat, leading to itching in those areas.

9. Immunosuppression:

Some conditions which cause depression of the body’s immune system, like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer, etc., can also predispose one to infections and itching of the ear and throat.

How do you get rid of itchy ears and throat?

itchy ears and throat
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Most conditions which result in the itchy ears and throat are mild and may resolve on their own or following the use of various remedies.

1. Avoid allergens that cause reactions.

2. Avoid using cotton buds or, worse, sharp instruments to clean/scratch the ear.

3. Drink lots of fluids (avoid cold fluids) in cases of the common cold to relieve irritation and replace fluid loss.

4. Breathing in steam (in common cold). Steam can be provided from a bowl of hot water or from a hot (not scalding hot) shower. Avoid this form of treatment in children because of the risk of burns, as steam inhalation is very discomforting.

5. Nasal sprays and decongestants.

6. Honey and throat lozenges (avoid lozenges in children due to risk of choking)

What medicine helps itchy ears and throat?

1. Ear drops: These can come in handy when treating itchy ears.

2. Antihistamines (e.g., loratadine) which take care of the itching

3. Pain relievers (e.g. paracetamol , diclofenac)

4. Steroids

When to See Your Doctor

When certain conditions occur, they are an indication to see a doctor

  1. When symptoms of itchy ears and throat persist, despite the above remedies, it is time to consult your doctor for further evaluation.
  2. Skin disorders that cause itching of the skin like itchy ears require consultation with a dermatologist. When jaundice is present, consultation might be required with a gastroenterologist or a general surgeon, depending on the cause of jaundice.
  3. The presence of life-threatening symptoms (anaphylaxis) is also another reason to consult your doctor immediately. These symptoms include:

a) Hives

b) Swelling of the tongue

c) Swelling of the throat

d) Skin flushing

e) Difficulty in breathing

f) Vomiting

g) Diarrhoea

h) Loss of consciousness

To get to the root cause of the itchy ears and throat, the attending doctor may order blood tests and ear/throat swabs to aid in diagnosis. In case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics would be introduced for treatment.

Conclusion

The ear and throat are connected organs, and conditions affecting one could also affect the other. Itching is a common symptom when there is a problem in these organs, of which allergy and infections are the most common culprits.

Various remedies for itchy ears and throat could be commenced at home to get relief. However, where symptoms persist and are not life-threatening, you could arrange an appointment with a doctor on KompleteCare.

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Dr. Egbulem Orusaemeka Kelechi is a University of Jos trained medical doctor with 14 years of clinical practice experience. Dr Kay loves to write and educate poeple about health and health related matters.

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