Symptoms A-Z

Swelling Behind The Ears Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your swelling behind the ears symptoms, including 5 causes and common questions.

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Contents

  1. 5 Possible Swelling Behind The Ears Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

5 Possible Swelling Behind The Ears Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced swelling behind the ears. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Lymph node inflammation behind the ear

There are lymph nodes behind the ear. Lymph nodes are where your immune cells live, and when they become enlarged, it could be from a nearby infection, immune response, or even backlog of blood.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pain behind the ear, swelling behind the ears

Symptoms that always occur with lymph node inflammation behind the ear: swelling behind the ears

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Swimmer's ear (otitis externa)

Swimmer's ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the canal which runs from the eardrum to the opening of the ear.

It is caused by anything that introduces bacteria, fungus, or a virus into the canal. Water that stays inside the ear after swimming is a common cause, as are cotton swabs used for cleaning or earpieces that create irritation.

Most susceptible are children, because they have narrower ear canals that do not drain well.

Early symptoms include redness, itching, and discomfort inside the ear canal, sometimes with drainage of clear fluid.

Even mild symptoms should be treated because they can quickly get worse. The infection can spread and intensify, becoming very painful with increased drainage, swelling, fever, and loss of hearing.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination of the ear canal. Lab tests may be done on a sample of the discharge from the ear.

Treatment includes having a medical provider clean the ear canal of debris and discharge, and a prescription for antibiotic and/or steroid eardrops.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Branchial cleft anomaly

A branchial cleft anomaly (abnormality) is a mass of unusual tissues within the neck. These tissues may form fluid-filled pockets called cysts, or they may form passages (called fistulas) that drain to an opening in the skin.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: shortness of breath, neck bump, painful neck lump, trouble swallowing, swollen neck

Symptoms that never occur with branchial cleft anomaly: bleeding from the ear

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic inflammation of the salivary gland (parotitis)

The parotid glands are large salivary glands that sit inside each cheek, over the jaw in front of each ear. Chronic recurrent parotitis is a condition that causes repeated cycles of swelling in these glands, causing swelling and occasionally dry mouth or a strange taste.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: jaw pain, moderate fever, swollen jaw, dry mouth, swelling behind the ears

Symptoms that always occur with chronic inflammation of the salivary gland (parotitis): swollen jaw

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swelling Behind The Ears

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Is there anything coming from your ear(s)?
  • Do you use a hearing aid or wear earplugs?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out why you're having swelling behind the ears

Swelling Behind The Ears Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced swelling behind the ears have also experienced:

  • 32% Pain Behind The Ear
  • 6% Lump Behind The Ear
  • 3% Headache

People who have experienced swelling behind the ears were most often matched with:

  • 33% Lymph Node Inflammation Behind The Ear
  • 33% Swimmer'S Ear (Otitis Externa)
  • 33% Cellulitis

People who have experienced swelling behind the ears had symptoms persist for:

  • 50% Less than a week
  • 31% Less than a day
  • 8% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Swelling Behind The Ears Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having swelling behind the ears