Why You Have an Itchy Throat and Ears

January 25, 2024

7 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Do you often find yourself battling an itchy throat and ears? If so, you’re not alone. The discomfort of an itchy throat and ears can be both irritating and concerning, often prompting questions about causes, treatments, and relief. Unfortunately, most patients who experience these symptoms tend to push them to the side, labeling them as annoying and moving on with their lives, leaving the itching untreated. However, leaving underlying issues unaddressed can create more serious conditions down the road.

If you’re suffering from a sore throat and itchy ears, you could be dealing with:

  • Interrelated sinus issues
  • Allergies
  • Inner ear itch

Michael Kaplan, M.D., the founding sinus specialist at Kaplan Sinus Relief and pioneer of balloon sinuplasty in Houston is here to provide additional insight on why your throat and ears itch (and what you can do about it!).

Why do my throat and ears itch?

An itchy sensation in the throat and ears can stem from various factors, including allergies, infections, and underlying ear, nose, and throat illnesses such as sinusitis. However, when diagnosed and treated properly, these symptoms are not harmful and are easily cured. 

Reason #1: Interrelated sinus issues

Because the ears, nose, and throat are all connected, sinus infections or other sinus issues can contribute to throat and ear discomfort. The biggest culprit in these situations is postnasal drip, the accumulation of mucus in the back of the throat.

Can a sinus infection cause a sore throat? It sure can! Sinus infections often accompany symptoms like nasal congestion, facial pain, and a sore throat. The inflammation and congestion associated with sinusitis can lead to a feeling of fullness or itching in the ears, typically caused by postnasal drip and excess mucus not draining properly from your sinus cavities. 

If you believe that you have a sinus infection or suffer from frequent sinus infections (chronic sinusitis), do not ignore your symptoms and seek medical help as soon as possible. Although the symptoms are typically harmless, untreated sinusitis can lead to other health complications. 

Reason #2: Allergies

If you already suffer from seasonal allergies, Houston allergies can feel a little more extreme in some cases. Houston residents are particularly susceptible to allergies year-round due to the city’s warm climate, which can exacerbate symptoms like itchy throat and ears. 

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever occurs when allergen particles from the environment — such as pollen, dust, mold, and pet dander — trigger the body’s immune response, leading to inflammation in the nasal passages and throat. When this happens, postnasal drip can trickle down the back of your throat, causing irritation and an itchy sensation. Some people will also experience itching in their ear canals when their allergies flare up.

Apart from environmental allergies, if you have a food allergy and consume something that you are allergic to, your mouth, ears, and throat may begin to swell and itch. Food allergies are often more dangerous than regular seasonal allergies, so be sure to have the proper defense at the ready (an EpiPen, for example) or see a doctor as soon as you notice an allergic reaction occurring.

Reason #3: Inner ear itch

There are other explanations as to why your throat and ears itch that have nothing to do with ear, nose, and throat conditions. A common question that we hear is, “Why do my ears itch deep inside at night?” referring to the inner ear. 

You may experience itchy ears at night more intensely due to your body’s daily cycles of temperature regulation and fluid balance. In other words, your itching may worsen as the result of a rise in skin temperature as your skin loses more water at night. 

In some cases, inner ear itch can also be a result of having too much earwax in your ears. Ear wax is the body’s way of cleaning out dead skin cells and dirt, but an influx of earwax can make your ears itch. Ear wax buildup can result from frequently wearing headphones, wearing a hearing aid, or simply being prone to natural buildup. In any case, you should never attempt to remove heavy buildup on your own as you could cause damage to your inner ear. 

A note on safely removing earwax

Before you reach for the Q-tip, remember that, if pushed too far, a Q-tip can cause irreversible damage to the eardrum that can lead to infection or hearing loss. Instead, use a Q-tip to clean only the outside of your ears, rather than inside the ear canal.

You can gently remove earwax by wetting a washcloth with warm water and gliding it around the outside ear. To soften earwax, use an eyedropper to apply a few drops of baby oil inside your ear canal. After a few days, use an eyedropper to apply warm water, then irrigate. You can also soften earwax with over-the-counter ear drops.

How do you get rid of itchy throat and ears?

If you’re dealing with an itchy throat and ears, you will likely do anything to get the itching to stop. Fortunately, there are many sore throat and itchy ears treatment options available to you to address your underlying symptoms. 

At-home remedies

Itchy ears and throat home remedies can include:

  • Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines or nasal sprays
  • Using a humidifier to keep your sinuses open and hydrated 
  • Drinking hot tea with ingredients like honey and ginger
  • Taking throat lozenges or using ear drops 
  • Trying a saltwater gargle 

Not all cases of throat and ear itch can be treated with at-home remedies. If your symptoms do not go away or seem to persist longer than usual, it may be a smart idea to speak to a sinus specialist such as Dr. Kaplan for other sore throat and itchy ears treatment options that will provide longer-lasting relief.

Sinus infection treatment

If your itchy throat and ears are caused by sinus infections, treatment often involves a combination of antibiotics, decongestants, and nasal irrigation to alleviate symptoms. However, chronic or recurrent sinus infections might require advanced procedures such as balloon sinuplasty, a minimally invasive technique aimed at widening sinus passages to improve drainage and alleviate symptoms. Balloon sinuplasty can offer long-term relief to patients who deal with chronic sinus issues. 

Allergy treatment

For some patients, regular allergy maintenance and prevention just isn’t enough to combat annoying symptoms like itchy ears and throat. ClariFix cryotherapy is a revolutionary treatment that can help those who don’t respond well to natural or regular allergy treatments such as traditional sprays, drops, and medications. 

If your itchy ears and throat evolve to drainage and stuffy sinuses that last longer than 10 days, it may be best to seek the advice of a sinus specialist to resolve your medical issue.

Struggling with an itchy throat and ears? Kaplan Sinus Relief is here to help.

When itchy ears and throat home remedies don’t seem to do the trick, the sinus specialists at Kaplan Sinus Relief are here to get to the bottom of why you have an itchy throat and ears. Conditions such as chronic sinusitis, allergies, or underlying ear, nose, and throat issues might require specific medical intervention that only a specialist can aid with.

Kaplan Sinus Relief provides tailored treatment plans for patients experiencing throat and ear discomfort. Whether it involves procedures like balloon sinuplasty or recommending personalized allergy management strategies, our goal is to provide comprehensive care to alleviate your symptoms effectively. Treatments such as Clarifix or balloon sinuplasty can provide long-term, lasting relief to either your allergy or sinus symptoms that cause itching in your throat and ears. 

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Kaplan to see which procedure or treatment route would be best for your specific needs. 

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