Ear diseases and disorders affect the human ear and hearing. There are notable disorders of the inner, middle, and outer ear you should be well-versed in. These diseases mostly result from infections and injuries.
Hearing impairment is a rare condition, but there are other conditions that are easy to notice. Most likely, you have suffered from lymph near the ear or related complications that affect the lymphatic system. Most lumps are relatively non-threatening, but they can sometimes signify a more severe condition.
Discovering a lump behind your ear can raise eyebrows or be alarming to you and your family. If it is all left to you, it can be difficult to look good with what is going on behind your ears. While it is always a good idea to let healthcare professionals examine new lumps on the body, don’t stress so much about a lump behind the ear. It shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
This article will look at what lymph near the ear indicates and causes, including swollen lymph nodes, and how to deal with it. Keep reading to learn more.
Understanding Lymph near the ear: a route to find the cause and cure
Human beings are susceptible to developing different kinds of diseases or disorders. A lump can appear on the back of the ears that you’re sure wasn’t there before. The back of the ear is an area of the body made up of skin, mastoid bone, subcutaneous cellular tissues, and adipose tissues.
The bump behind the ear can cause discomfort or itching, leading to headaches and pain. The swelling behind the ear may happen gradually over time, and it’s not bothersome. It will resolve on its own, but it’s wise to seek medical assistance if the problem persists.
Lumps can vary in size, but they are generally small to medium-sized. It can be hard or soft, painful or tender. With hundreds of lymph nodes located in different parts of the body, they are more likely to appear behind the ears.
Other parts include the neck, groin, armpit, or area near the internal organs. It’s easy to feel the bump behind your ears with your fingers or let an expert examine you to be sure. The lump should usually reduce in size within two to three weeks.
Causes of a Lump behind the ear: key things to know
The lymph behind the ear indicates a build-up of dead skin or oil caused by a blockage in the skin. Notable causes include the following:
Swollen lymph nodes, or lymphadenopathy
Lymph nodes play crucial roles in fighting off infections. They are the best place for immune cells to live and can be found behind the ear. When ear nodes become enlarged, it’s because you’re suffering from an infection or an immune response to a disease.
Lymph nodes contain white blood cells that detect, attack, and destroy bacteria and viruses that harm the body. They also help filter lymphatic fluid, so swollen ear nodes are a sign that dead bacteria or foreign viruses that cause infections are building up.
The lymph nodes may swell when you suffer from ear, eye, or throat infections. Common infections that affect the lymph nodes behind the ears include:
- Fungal infections: this can include an infection around or in the head that causes itching of the scalp or hair loss.
- Bacterial infections: sores in the mouth or tonsils can cause bacteria that need to be removed by antibodies.
- Pfeiffer’s glandular fever: a fever that lasts for a long period can cause enlargement of the lymph nodes behind the ears.
Other causes can include:
- Sores in the neck can also cause swollen lymph nodes.
- Allergic reactions.
- Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system is weakened.
- Types of cancer like lymphoma or leukaemia (in rare cases).
The severity of the swelling of the lymph nodes will vary depending on the symptoms and the cause. Common signs will include:
- Sore throat
- Reddened skin
Swollen lymph nodes can be painful, elastic to touch, small in size, and easy to move with a finger, among other characteristics. The good news is that the lump will disappear when the infection is gone, and the lymph nodes will return to their usual location.
Don’t be afraid to see a doctor if the lump lasts for more than two weeks or if it comes with other symptoms that are hard to ignore.
Viral and bacterial infections can cause a lump behind the ear due to fluid build-up. The white blood cells move to the affected areas to defend the body. Throat infections such as pharyngitis, the flu virus, gingivitis, otitis, herpes, conjunctivitis, or measles can cause swollen ear lymph nodes.
The posterior auricular lymph nodes usually react to an infection by increasing in size as the body keeps fighting. You shouldn’t touch the swollen area, as the reactive lymph nodes will return to their normal location and size when you treat the infection.
Acne is quite common and occurs when the overproduction of oil or sebum blocks the skin’s pores. Sebum can combine with dead skin cells to form a lump or pimple. The pimple may swell and become painful, but it will disappear on its own.
The sebaceous cyst is made up of sebum, a fluid-filled lump that forms under the skin. The cyst can appear behind the ear or in any other body area.
A sebaceous cyst is soft to the touch, movable, and not painful. However, the cyst may become swollen, reddened, sensitive, or painful. It’s best to have the lump checked by a dermatologist near you.
Mastoiditis occurs when you develop an ear infection and don’t get treatment. The condition affects the bony protrusion behind your ear, or the mastoid. A pus-filled lump or cyst may develop.
It can affect those with low to serious hearing loss, children under 2 years old, or adults of any age. Other symptoms of mastoiditis include hearing loss, fluid discharge from the ear, and headaches.
Also known as a “fatty lump,” a lipoma develops between the layers of the skin. The swelling that forms behind the ear is painless and easy to move around under the skin with your fingers. Unfortunately, lipomas can cause discomfort because they grow slowly.
How to best deal with a lump behind the ear
If you’re well acquainted with the causes of the lump behind the ear, it’s easy to identify the disorder. For instance, if you have a history of acne, it is easy to diagnose the lump. If you find it trickier, here is how to self-check:
- Make your hand the best tool to detect lymph behind the ears.
- Check whether the bump is pliable or soft.
- Touch and feel whether it’s tender or painful.
- Note if the lump is growing.
- The lymph node is red, inflamed, or itchy.
- Check whether it’s stiff and immovable.
- Confirm whether it is leaking foul-smelling fluid.
When to see the Doctor
You should see a doctor if the lump comes on suddenly, can’t be moved, doesn’t go away, or has severe symptoms like:
- The lump increases in size.
- Releases pus
- Ear drainage
- Hearing loss
- Pain and redness
- Experience difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty moving the neck or head
Treatment and prevention
It’s possible to treat and prevent swollen lymph nodes or other complications that cause a lump behind the ears or their symptoms. The best treatment aims to fight the diseases causing the swelling or symptoms.
At-home treatments can include using warm and cold compresses to reduce pain and swelling. A physician can recommend over-the-counter medications like antibiotics to deal with swelling, pain, and redness. Fluid intake helps keep you hydrated and your body strong to fight infections.
Maintaining a healthy diet and using home remedies like castor oil, aloe vera, honey, and apple cider vinegar can help. Acupuncture therapy helps deal with inflammation and treat immune deficiencies. Doctors can recommend surgery to remove lipomas and cysts.
Lumps can occur behind the ear because of several causes. The symptoms are easy to notice, and the bumps can be harmless. Because the cause of the lump is something that’s not serious, you shouldn’t overlook the disorder. If the lump hurts, gets bigger, or is accompanied by other symptoms, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. Healthcare professionals will diagnose the cause and decide on the best treatment.