Swollen lymph nodes behind the ear can be a result of many causes, some more serious than others. Found throughout the body, lymph nodes are bean-shaped glands that store nutrients and fluid, and aid in waste removal. Lymph nodes also produce antibodies to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other damaging elements in the blood. Once the infection is fought, lymph nodes absorb these elements to filter them out of the body. This process temporarily causes the lymph node to swell without pain or you even noticing.
Causes of swollen lymph nodes behind the ear
There are numerous causes of swollen lymph node leading to a lump behind the ear. Some are minor and require minimal treatment while others can be more serious. It is important to bring your swollen lymph node behind the ear to the attention of your doctor. Here are some common causes of swollen lymph nodes behind the ear.
Infections: Infections, such as fungal infection, bacteria in the mouth, and mononucleosis, can all contribute to swollen lymph nodes behind the ear. Because helping fight off infections is the function of lymph nodes, they become easily exposed to any pathogens in the body. The lymph nodes become enlarged as they produce more and more antibodies.
Swollen lymph nodes behind the ear indicate a throat, ear, or eye infection, which your body is trying to fight.
Injury: Any damage to the head or neck area can cause the lymph nodes behind the ear to swell as the body is trying to repair itself. Even if you get a cut, the overproduction of antibodies will cause lymph nodes to swell.
Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune diseases, like lupus and Hashimoto’s disease, along with a few others, can cause lymph nodes to swell because the body’s immune system has become damaged from the disease.
Cancer: Lymphoma or blood cancers can cause the lymph nodes to swell. If swelling behind the ear occurs, it could be an indication of tumor growth.
German measles: German measles is caused by the rubella virus and is manifested as a red or pink rash on the skin. The rash will begin at the face and work its way down. Along with rash, swollen lymph nodes behind the ear can occur as well.
Tooth abscess: A tooth abscess refers to a pocket being formed around an infected area of a tooth.
Flu and cold: Flu or cold can cause several lymph nodes to swell, but predominately ones behind the ears or on the neck.
Allergy: Along with other common allergy symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes, some individuals may experience swelling of the lymph nodes behind the ear, too.
Strep throat: Having strep throat can result in swollen lymph nodes behind the ear along with other symptoms, like sore throat and painful swallowing.
Other causes: Other causes of swollen lymph nodes include some STDs, shingles, tuberculosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, certain medications, gingivitis, and mouth sores.
What are the symptoms of swollen lymph nodes behind ear?
Symptoms of a swollen lymph node can vary from person to person and often relate to the underlying cause of the swollen lymph node. Some of these symptoms may include fever, night sweats, weight loss, swelling of multiple lymph nodes in an isolated area, sore throat or runny nose, and evidence of a local infection such as a toothache.
Other symptoms of swollen lymph nodes behind the ear include tenderness and pain when pressure is applied, difficulty swallowing due to swollen glands, and warmth and redness in place where the swollen lymph nodes are located.
Natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes behind ear
There are home remedies you can utilize in order to reduce symptoms related to swollen lymph nodes and to speed up the recovery. Here are some of those home remedies you can try:
- Apply warm compresses
- Massage the lymph nodes
- Gargle salt water
- Consume garlic
- Drink diluted apple cider vinegar
- Consume honey
- Apply castor oil to the swollen lymph node
- Make a paste with turmeric and honey and apply to swollen area
- Try over-the-counter pain medications
When to see a doctor for swollen lymph nodes behind ear?
Many causes of swollen lymph nodes behind the ear are not serious in nature as they are simply a result of the lymph nodes doing their job and fighting off infection. But some causes can be quite serious, and so it’s important to know when you should have your swollen lymph node looked at more closely. You should see a doctor for your swollen lymph node if:
- The swollen lymph node does not decrease in size after a few weeks and grows larger.
- The area if painful and tender.
- The area becomes hard, fixed, and irregular.
- You develop a fever or night sweats.
- The lymph node is larger than one centimeter in diameter.
- You experience unintentional weight loss.
- The skin becomes red and inflamed.
- Swelling begins to occur near the collar bone or neck.
- You have had cancer previously and the swollen lymph node is in the area where the cancer was previously.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, see your doctor immediately as these are signs of a more serious complication.
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