Having ear pain when swallowing is usually an indication that there is an underlying infection present. Because the throat and the ear are connected to each other via the nervous system, it should come as no surprise that an infection or affliction dealt to one area will inevitably affect the other. Middle ear infections often cause blockages in the Eustachian tubes that directly link the middle ear to the pharynx, which would result in ear pain when swallowing.
Irritated nerves can also be the reason why ear pain is perceived while swallowing. This may indicate that the irritated nerves are directly connected to the ear. On the other hand, it may not even be directly linked to the ear, but rather connected to a nearby system. Earaches are often commonly associated with the symptom of having pressure felt in the ear while coughing.
- Ear Infection – Plainly put, an ear infection is the most obvious cause of an earache. This does, however, not take into account when the symptom first became aggravated. When an ear infection is present, the person afflicted may experience discomfort in the ear when chewing, swallowing, or partaking in any activity that involves movement of that area.
- Tonsillitis – Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils as a result of an infection that has situated itself there at the back of the throat. If the tonsillitis has been caused by a bacterial infection, then an earache may become a prevalent symptom. Other symptoms of tonsillitis include: Severe throat pain, difficulty swallowing, and swollen tonsils.
- Blocked Eustachian Tube – The Eustachian tube is a tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and to the nose. Its purpose is to balance and regulate the air pressure in the middle ear and outer environment. The Eustachian tube will open up while either yawning or swallowing. Any blockage that occurs here can lead to ear pain when swallowing.
- Mumps – This ’cause’ is far less common than the others. Ear pain while swallowing is not directly related to the mumps, but a painful sensation in the ear is a common sign of this highly contagious viral disease.
- Peritonsillar Abscess (Quincy) – A peritonsillar abscess is a major complication of tonsillitis. It, too, causes a sore throat and ear pain while swallowing food. Fever, malaise, and the inability to open the mouth are other symptoms of this condition.
- Thermal Laryngitis – Thermal laryngitis affects the laryngeal mucosa, which produces a sore throat, pain while swallowing, a hoarse voice, breathing problems, and ear pain. It is caused due to heat injury to the larynx.
- Sore Throat – The cranial nerves, IX and X, are anatomically connected to the middle ear and throat. Ear pain frequently happens in conjunction to throat pain and sore throats. The main reason for ear pain while swallowing is because of a sore throat or because of strep throat. Ear pain felt while swallowing food or drink could also be because of contact ulcers.
- Sinusitis – Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. Stuffiness in the ears, as well as ear pain, is one of the most obvious symptoms of sinusitis. Rarely, though, does sinusitis cause ear pain when swallowing food. But, if this does happen, it’s probably due to the pathogens that are causing the sinus infection to progress into a throat infection. Therefore, sinusitis can sometimes be accompanied by an earache while swallowing.