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Head and Neck Cancer

One-sided Ear Pain

04/30/2009

Question:

I`ve been diagnosed with postnasal drip, and there is little denying that this is, at least in part, accurate. However, I`ve been experiencing a number of symptoms including:

- the aforementioned postnasal drip - chronic nasal/sinus congestion - blood in the mucus (never in the sputum or PND) - an isolated running nosebleed that was quite alarming - left-sided ear pain upon throat clearing and swallowing food (more prominent when swallowing hot/cold liquids) - larynx pain (this is on the outside of the larynx and seems to be intermittent; it feels almost as if the larynx is bruised when I press on it.)

I am a smoker and have recently quit, but I`m a bit worried that this is throat cancer. Much of the information I`ve seen indicates that carcinoma should be suspected until ruled out. I have almost seven pack-years of smoking behind me, and I`m a 25-year-old man.

Is there anything else that might cause these particular symptoms, or does this sound in any way grave or alarming?

Any light you could shed would be appreciated. Thanks much.

Answer:

Your synptoms could be secondary to a multitude of conditions. Given your age, laryngeal cancer is somewhat unlikely. Chronic inflammation of the throat secondary to smoking, and/or reflux of acid from your stomach into your throat is the likely diagnosis. You should definitely have this looked at. A thorough examination of your throat done by an ear nose and throat doctor seems justified. I would encourage you to quit smoking....you have many years in front of you and you could save yourself a lot of aggravations.

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Response by:

Pierre  Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University