Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Are your throat and ears itching constantly? Want to know what causes itchy throat and ears & how to get rid of it? Scratchy throat and itchy nose can be symptoms of health conditions like allergies and the common cold. Itchy throat and ears are usually harmless symptoms, which can be treated easily at home. However, if accompanied by some other signs and symptoms, itchy ears and throat can indicate more serious conditions which warrant prompt medical treatment.

Causes of Itchy Throat and Ears

Some of the possible causes for itchy throat and ears are:

Common Cold: Common Cause of Itchy Throat and Ears

Colds are the most common triggers for itchy ears and throat. Common cold is by far the most common cause of itchy throat and ears. Common cold is caused by different viruses, which spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes out droplets containing the virus into the air. Although not serious, but colds can be extremely irritating and last for a few days. Runny nose, cough, sore throat, sneezing, body aches and headaches are other symptoms of common cold.

Allergic Rhinitis Can Trigger Itchy Throat and Ears

Allergic rhinitis occurs when the immune system of the body reacts to harmful foreign bodies in the environment. Also known as hay fever, this condition is common caused by irritants like dust mites, pollen, mold, pet dander, perfume, and smoke and is a common cause of itchy throat and ears. This allergic reaction produces chemicals which trigger allergy symptoms like itchy ears and throat, runny and stuffed nose, watery and swollen eyes, sneezing, coughing, skin and mouth itchiness and fatigue.

Food Allergies Can Potentially Cause Itchy Throat and Ears

Food allergy affects around 4% to 6% of children, and nearly 4% of adults. Like seasonal allergies, food allergies also happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive due to exposure to allergen like eggs, peanuts, or other foods. Food allergies are accompanied by mild to severe symptoms. Common symptoms of food allergy are vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and hives. Severe food allergies can also cause life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include wheezing, breathlessness, fainting, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, swallowing trouble, tightness in the throat, and swelling in the mouth. Food allergies is another cause of itchy throat and ears.

Drug Allergies: Another Cause of Itchy Throat and Ears

About 5% to 10% of reactions to medicines are allergies. Drug allergies also happen when the immune system reacts to medicines, just like it does to germs. The allergic reactions usually happen within a few hours or days after having the medicine. Common symptoms of a drug allergy include hives, skin rash, swelling, wheezing, itching, and breathing trouble, shock, and dizziness. Itchy throat and ears can also be caused by drug allergies.

Ways To Get Rid Of Itchy Throat & Ears And The Associated Symptoms

A doctor should be contacted immediately if the symptoms of itchy throat and ears last for more than 10 days or gradually worsen. Blood test or throat swab may need to be conducted for identifying the presence of bacterial infection, which requires to be treated with antibiotics. Persistent or severe symptoms of itchy throat and ears can be treated in the following ways.

Wait & Watch. Most colds cure on their own within 7 to 10 days. If itchy throat and ears and the associated symptoms last for more than 2 weeks or get worse, the patient should consult a doctor. Since there is still no cure for common cold, the symptoms of itchy throat and ears can be managed by taking OTC pain relievers, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, nasal sprays and decongestants like pseudoephedrine, and combination cold medicines.

OTC Medicines & Avoiding Triggers. Patients of allergic rhinitis would need to undergo skin or blood test to identify the substances which trigger their symptoms of itchy throat and ears. Allergy symptoms including itchy throat and ears can be managed with OTC decongestants, like pseudoephedrine or antihistamines like loratadine. These medicines are available in the form of pills, nasal sprays and eye drops. If allergy medicines do not prove effective in treating itchy throat and ears, then the doctor can administer shots called immunotherapy for gradually stopping the patient’s body from reacting. Allergy symptoms can be prevented by staying away from the triggers. A dust mite-proof cover should be put on the bed, sheets and other linens be washed in hot water and the upholstered furniture, carpets, and curtains be vacuumed regularly. Patients should remain indoors when pollen counts are high to prevent itchy throat and ears. The windows of their room should be closed and the air conditioner should be kept on. These people should not smoke, and they must stay away from smokers. Pets should not be allowed in their bedroom. The humidity in the home should be set at, or below, 50 % to discourage mold growth. Any mold in the house should be cleaned with a solution of water and chlorine bleach to avoid itchy throat and ears.

Tackling Food Allergies. When a person’s body often reacts to certain foods, they should undergo a skin prick test to identify which foods trigger the allergies and the symptoms of itchy throat and ears. Once the allergy causing food is identified, its consumption should be avoided to prevent and manage itchy throat and ears occurring as a result of that particular food allergy. Sufferers of severe food allergies should carry an epinephrine auto-injector, or an EpiPen, with them for emergency situations. They should check the ingredient list of every food before consuming it.

Stop the Culprit Medicine. To treat the symptoms of a drug allergy, which also include itchy throat and ears, doctor can ask the patient to stop taking the offending medicine. Immediate medical assistance should be provided to the patient experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 18, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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