Informational Posts / My Personal Experiences

Ear Infections, Antibiotics and Autoimmune Hypothyroidism

Ear Infections, Antibiotics and Autoimmune Hypothyroidism
Click here to listen to a reading of this blog:
Voiced by Amazon Polly

So today is day number eight that I am off work. The doctor has signed me off as I spend another day at home in agony, bored and fed up. 

Rachel looking tired and sleepy on a sofa

Eight weeks ago, I developed a really itchy and sore ear, that didn’t go away. After a trip to the doctor, they told me I didn’t have classic ear infection signs, as I didn’t have a temperature and, apart from the annoying ear, was fine otherwise.

However, they prescribed me a spray with an antibiotic in, that frankly, just made my ear blocked and the irritation no better. I used the spray for the course they told me, but was so irritated with the blocked ear that I used an at-home ear syringe, that unblocked the ear immediately and also all irritation was gone. I realise self-syringing was probably risky, but the blocked ear was so frustrating and I couldn’t get a doctors appointment for another week and a half, so was desperate to try anything.

Then, fast forwarding about six weeks, just before Christmas, I caught a virus. I had a fever, was tired, weak, had a tickly cough and blocked nose and developed another irritated ear.

The doctor said I’d probably developed an ear infection due to the weakened immune system from the virus and sent me away with the same spray as last time. I completed the week’s course with it again, and my ear was better. I had about four or five days of bliss, before the pain started again.

After three more days, the pain was much worse and keeping me awake at night. Ibuprofen wasn’t doing much, so on the fourth day I went back to the doctors again. They said it was definitely an infection this time and could be that I’d caught a third infection, or that the original one had never fully gone and it was just coming back stronger after each course of antibiotic spray.

I’d also developed a rash all over my chest. So I was prescribed antibiotic ear drops, which also had a steroid, and told to use it for five days. By day four, the pain was much worse still, so I went back to the doctor who then said we’d have to try an oral antibiotic as one of the last resorts. My ear was so swollen that it had completely swelled shut and the doctor couldn’t even take a look inside.

I had read somewhere previously that oral antibiotics can flare up Hashimoto’s, but was so desperate to get rid of the ear infection.

Well, I started the antibiotics the next day, and, apart from the ear pain, was fine.

Day two, I woke up in a complete state. All I remember is that the room was moving and nothing felt real. It was as if I was dreaming. Everything felt very surreal and I was overly emotional. I had a fever and so I think the infection was maybe fighting back. My other half said I wasn’t making much sense in what I was saying.

I woke up feeling incredibly hypothyroid. Symptoms I haven’t had this bad since I was on Levothyroxine over a year ago now; pure fatigue, excruciating aches and pains and even a migraine. I think the antibiotics maybe triggered this, and luckily I still have some Sumatriptan from the doctor that I could take to halt it. I also still had a fever.

I was so unwell that I wasn’t able to get myself to the toilet all day, and we have a toilet on the same floor. I was so fatigued and in so much pain. I had next to no appetite, too.

My other half came home with some probiotics he picked up from a health store, so I started taking these to support my gut, on advice from other Hashimoto’s patients. On the other hand, at least my ear was much better. No longer swollen, sore or itchy.

Day three, I was a little better though not much. The aches and pains weren’t quite as bad although my energy levels were still through the floor. I didn’t eat all day until 4pm when I eventually had an appetite. I’d been thirsty since I started the antibiotics so had been drinking lots of water all week, mind. I woke up from a nap midday absolutely dripping in sweat from the fever, but come the evening, I didn’t have a fever anymore. I think the probiotics were starting to help.

Now, day four on the antibiotics, I still feel unwell but I definitely feel on the mend. Still rather weak, fatigued and achy, I can make it around the house better and I definitely have my appetite back. I spoke to my doctor this morning who agreed that antibiotics can flare up autoimmune conditions and that taking the probiotics was a sensible idea. He’s not surprised they’ve helped. He said I won’t feel loads better until I complete the course on Tuesday and even then might take a few weeks to return back to good health, and he’s also glad to hear the ear is much better.

According to the pharmacist I spoke to, the idea with probiotics being helpful, is that the antibiotics kill off both good and bad gut flora, whereas probiotics add some back in, which helps prevent you from being so open to things like Candida after you’ve finished the course. They can also help support your body through the course, as they seem to be doing so for me. The important thing to note is to take the probiotic at least four hours after the antibiotic so they don’t cancel each other out, and this seems to have worked well for me.

I have searched online for any possible connection between thyroid problems and ear infections, but haven’t found much. Hypothyroid Mom states it as a hypothyroid symptom here, so I have emailed her to ask if she has further information. I’ll let you know if I hear back.

I believe it is possible that if the nose is congested, like when I had the virus/cold type thing in December, that fluid can be trapped in the eustachian tube and cause pressure pain, which could have been linked to the ear pain I had back then.

For now, I seem to be on the mend and hope to return to work on Monday. I’ve felt unwell now for almost a whole month!

Read the next blog here.

Have you had recurrent ear infections with your thyroid issue? Feel free to share in the comments below. 

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts and at events about the many aspects thyroid disease affects and how to overcome these. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her bestselling books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".


  • Sunny
    February 25, 2022 at 12:50 am

    I am going through this. I’m having back to back ear issues. It’s so painful! On my 2nd round of antibiotics. I guess I really need to see my endocrinologist cause all my family doc does is put me on different antibiotics. That isn’t helping.

  • Keelie cicero
    January 20, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    I have Hashimotos and am 3 months into having an ear infection that sounds much like yours. It started with an itchy ear that then became an outer ear infection that then became an inner ear infection. The doc tried two types of antibiotic and an ear spray which got the ear to a certain point but then flared up again. The infection burst my eardrum and I had pus leaking out of my ear. Eventually I ended up in ENT where they drained the ear of pus and gave me the antibiotic and steroid drops. I used those until they ran out and had a break of nearly two weeks where my ear felt like it may get better (I should add that my hearing has been quite affected, like having cotton wool in it) and then last week my ear started to get painful again and leaking pus again! I’m due back at ENT next week and am back on the ear drops until then. Since the start of the ear infection I have had a lot of thyroid issues back, and now I’ve read your story my situation makes sense. I have had the itchy ear and outer ear infection three times previously to this.

  • Sue D.
    July 11, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    I now realize that left ear pain and general pain around the left side of my skull are linked to HT. I had a bout last autumn and felt so unwell as I also had chronic sinusitis and my bp shot up. Antibiotics did nothing for the pain and the pain, fly like symptoms all increased. The sinus calmed down with steroid spray, Beconase and rest. Took two months to recover. I now analyse symptoms and their potential link to Hashimotos as the immune system is underattack. I take probiotics to help balance out the antibiotics too. Currently my ear is now in the painful stage (again) so will start another course of probiotics before anything else. This article helped me to put two and two together, so thank you👍🌻

  • Wendy
    October 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s a year and a half ago and recently have been getting horrible flare ups that consist of aches and pains, fatigue, headaches, sore throat. For a while I thought I was getting sick, possibly a cold. It would take a few days to get over this then a week later my ear would start to itch followed by it feeling clogged with reduced hearing and eventually a horrible earache. I also wake up with an itchy neck and decolletage…incredibly itchy. This morning I woke up itchy with an earache after last week’s flare up and yesterday’s itchy ear. My doctor suspected an ear infection last time this happened so he prescribed antibiotic. After reading this article I got a little more insight, I never stopped to think that my symptoms could be linked to hypothyroidism. I’ve grown so frustrated with Hashimoto’s. I feel as if my body has betrayed me, I just want to live how I used to live before Hashimoto’s. I’m tired of feeling sick, being in pain and being tired. It’s not even been two years and I’m at a point where my frustration is at it’s maximum. My family and husband seem to shrug off my concerns and complaints and have even called me a hypochondriac at times and my Mom says I’m crazy. It hurts when people you love don’t understand or seem to care. Just because you can’t see my pain doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m sorry for my rant, I just feel so unwell this morning and have no one I feel comfortable to talk to about this.

  • Rossana
    March 28, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Hello, I have ear itchiness that is not going away for more than 1 year and a half now. It is so itchy (I feel it is in the walls of my ear) that the only way to relief the itchiness is scratching with something. I tried to avoid this, but if I don’t clean or scratch the ear canal, it seems to get worse. I get this fluid coming out and smells bad sometimes. This fluid seems to move while I go to sleep as well, so I keep waking up at nights and I have to scratch bc it is really itchy. My ears were always fine; I did not have any problems for all these years. However, now my ears don’t have the normal serum to protect them. I did one lab test (due to my insistence to the ear specialist) and the result showed my ears were infected with 2 different bacteria. Don’t remember the exact names, but I am getting scared now bc even though I placed the prescribed medicine, it is not going away. I feel something is happening to both ears but no one seems to know what. I visited 3 doctors and 1 specialist, but it seems all of them just give ear drops that are not doing effect. I was diagnosed with hypotheroidism like a year ago, but the itchiness began before that (few months before). I don’t know if it is related. Someone help please. I take Levothyroxine .25 mg daily. Ear drops used: cyprodex, fluocinolone acetodine oil 0.01% and otozambon. Topical creme used bc a doctor believes it is related to skin dryness: Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream USP 0.1%. Thank you

    • Rachel Hill
      March 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

      It sounds very similar to the ear infections I have had. Have you had any further evaluations or testing done on the ear? Any images?

  • Tina
    January 13, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    …I hope you feel better soon!
    From one Hashi’s Sister to another xx

  • Tina
    January 13, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    There are certain types of antibiotics that thyroid patients, especially, do not do well on. I wonder if this applies to you.


Leave a Reply