Ear, Throat and Sinus Infections

Your ears, nose, and throat are all part of your upper respiratory system. They share anatomy and have similar mucus membrane linings, which means they are able to get similar infections. Understanding the anatomy of your ears, nose, and throat will help you know how to keep them in good health and free of infections.

Below you’ll find information regarding common ear, throat and sinus infections and how they can be treated at Windermere Medical Center.

Ear Infections

Infection can affect the ear canal (otitis externa), the eardrum, or the middle ear (otitis media). Most ear injuries are caused by pressure changes during direct injury (such as a blow to the ear) or sport scuba diving, but, a persistently painful ear may signal an infection that requires treatment.

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

It’s not uncommon for symptoms to follow a respiratory infection such as the common cold. Symptoms of ear infection typically include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fullness in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vertigo

Treatments for an Ear Infection

Symptoms of ear infections usually improve within the first couple of days, and most infections clear up on their own within one to two weeks without any medication or treatment. If your symptoms don’t improve on their own, your physician will advise you on which treatments for pain from an ear infection. These may include the following:

  • A warm compress
  • Eardrops
  • Pain medication

Throat Infections

A throat infection is often related to a bacterial or viral infection. Common bacteria and viruses that may cause a sore throat may include:

  • Common Cold(Rhinovirus, Coronavirus)
  • Laryngitis (Parainfluenza)
  • Influenza (Types A and B)
  • Herpes simplex type 1
  • Mono (Epstein-Barr virus)

Symptoms of a Throat Infection

Symptoms of a throat infection may vary depending on the cause. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Swollen tonsils (tonsillitis)
  • Enlarged and tender glands in your neck
  • Discomfort when swallowing
  • Dry throat
  • White patches or pus on your tonsils
  • Hoarse or muffled voice

Treatment for a Throat Infection

You can treat many throats infections at home, but if your condition doesn’t improve in 1-2 weeks, you should contact a physician. The common cause of throat infections, viral infections, usually only last five to seven days and don’t require medical treatment.  A course of antibiotics is usually prescribed by a physician if your throat infection is caused by a viral infection. Home treatment options include:

  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Drinking plenty of warm fluids (teas, soup, and water)
  • Avoiding allergens and irritants
  • Taking throat lozenges
  • Reducing inflammation with ibuprofen or acetaminophen

Sinus Infections

Conditions that can cause sinus infections include different types of sinusitis (acute, subacute, chronic, recurrent). Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. This happens when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid or germs can grow and cause an infection. Additional causes include:

  • Allergies
  • Common cold
  • Weather
  • Deviated septum

Symptoms of a Throat Infection

A sinus infection may be diagnosed when a you have two or more symptoms and/or the presence of nasal discharge. Other symptoms include:

  • Facial pain/pressure
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of smell
  • Cough/congestion

Treatment for a Sinus Infection

If you have a simple sinus infection, your physician may recommend treatment with decongestants like Sudafed and steam inhalations. Use of nonprescription decongestant nasal drops or sprays may also be effective in controlling symptoms.