Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind Ear

Did you know the appearance of a lump behind the ear can be due to swelling in the lymph nodes? These lymph nodes are also called posterior auricular lymph nodes and are located on your temporal bone and under the posterior auricular muscle. The cause of swollen lymph nodes behind ear is multifactorial and sometimes indicates serious underlying problems like cancers. So, head down to learn more about the causes of swelling in the lymph nodes behind your ear.

What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind the Ear?

Swollen lymph nodes behind ear are caused by various reasons like infections, tooth abscesses, cancers, and autoimmune disorders. So, let’s dig into the causes of swelling in more detail. 

Gum Infections

Gum infections may result from a lack of proper dental care, inadequate brushing or flossing, and gum diseases like gingivitis. As a result, swelling occurs in the lymph nodes when the body tries to fight off infection. Tooth abscesses can also cause swollen lymph nodes behind ear. 

Bacteria or Viral Infections

Infections in the ear, throat, or eye cause swelling in the lymph nodes behind the ear. An ear infection called otitis media causes inflammation as well as irritation in the ear canal, which further spread in the lymphatic system, causing swelling.  

Otitis media usually develops due to viral or bacterial upper respiratory tract infections that evade the mucociliary and immune responses, causing inflammation in the middle ear. Common viruses that cause otitis media are adenovirus, rhinovirus, or coronavirus. The bacteria that cause otitis media are streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza. 


Lymphoma and leukemia are the most common causes of swelling in the lymph nodes behind the ear.  Lymphoma is often diagnosed via open lymph node biopsy. 

Hodgkin’s lymphoma often involves lymph nodes in the neck and mediastinum, and about 5% involves extranodal sites like tonsils. In contrast, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma involves 30% extranodal sites. 

Autoimmune Disorders

In autoimmune disorders, your body mistakes healthy cells with foreign substances and attacks them by activating the immune response. As a result, your lymph nodes swelled up. Various autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus affect your lymphatic system. 


The allergic reaction activates the immune response and promotes chemical mediators like histamine. These mediators induce vessel dilation and increase blood flow, resulting in swelling in the lymph nodes. One mechanism of allergy includes delayed-type hypersensitivity, which can manifest as either contact stomatitis or uncommonly swollen lymph nodes.

Seasonal allergies caused by pollen or mud can cause swollen lymph nodes behind ear. Allergic rhinitis can develop otitis media, sinusitis, and worsening asthma. 

Insect Bite

Insect stings near your ear can cause inflammation and redness, along with enlargement and swelling in your lymph nodes behind the ear. Seek medical attention if other signs and symptoms, such as fever and chills, develop. Tick bites cause Lyme disease, which shows symptoms like fever, fatigue, headaches, joint stiffness, and swollen lymph nodes.

Bed bugs are a source of stress for people living in infested homes. In rare cases, people may develop allergies associated with bug bites and experience inflammation and infection of lymph nodes, as well as anaphylaxis. 

Treatment of Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind Ear

The swollen lymph nodes sometimes gradually settle down if no serious underlying cause, such as an allergy, exists. However, if the swelling persists, then you should see your doctor. The swollen lymph nodes behind ear treatment include:

  • Over-the-counter medications, for instance, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin.
  • Antibiotics to treat infections like otitis media.
  • Drinking water can also cure infection and reduce swelling. 
  • Apply a warm compress.
  • Stay physically active and try to engage in exercise as it improves your lymphatic flow.

You can naturally clean your lymphatic system by exercising regularly, practicing deep breathing, sleeping in loose clothing, eating more vegetables and fruits, and taking hot and cold showers simultaneously to remove toxins from your body.

When Should I Worry About Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind My Ear?

You should be worried about swollen lymph nodes behind ear if the swelling persists for more than 3 weeks and you notice enlargement of lymph nodes, redness, or itchiness accompanying other symptoms like fever, weight loss, and shortness of breath. You should immediately consult your doctor as it may be due to a serious underlying problem.

If the lymph node is hard and immovable and continues to grow in size, this may be a sign of cancer or metastasis.

How to Drain Lymph Nodes Behind the Ear?

You can drain lymph nodes behind the ear by receiving lymphatic drainage therapy, which includes multiple techniques that correct your lymphatic flow. One technique is manual lymphatic drainage, which reduces swelling and facilitates the flow of lymphatic fluid within your tissues. Another type of lymphatic drainage is simple lymphatic drainage, which you can easily perform by yourself. 

Should You Massage Swollen Lymph Nodes?

You can massage swollen lymph nodes to help drain lymphatic fluid in your circulation and reduce swelling. However, before you massage the swollen lymph nodes, you should learn which body region demands massage and the amount of pressure needed to drain the lymph. 

How Does MOCEAN Improve Ear Wellness Through Lymphatic Drainage?

MOCEAN can improve your ear wellness by offering multiple lymphatic drainage therapies to drain lymph nodes behind your ear.  

At MOCEAN Wellness Center in NYC, our experts offer manual lymphatic drainage therapy that not only corrects the lymphatic flow but also promotes better sleep, increases circulation, and enhances energy levels. We also provide a dry brushing technique that includes rubbing a bristle brush against your skin to unclog the lymphatic nodes. 

Our professionals analyze your condition and perform a holistic assessment before beginning therapy. 

The Bottom Line

The swelling of lymph nodes behind the ear or posterior auricular lymph nodes mostly occurs due to bacterial or viral infections, but tooth abscesses, autoimmune disorders, and allergies can also cause swelling. Treatment includes over-the-counter medications like painkillers, antibiotics for infections, and home remedies like warm compresses. However, if you notice prolonged swelling accompanied by other signs and symptoms, then consult your doctor. 

To get effective lymphatic drainage therapy to revitalize your lymphatic system, book your appointment at MOCEAN Longevity Center in NYC today!

Then we create a health plan tailored to your needs.

Based on the results, we develop a personalized treatment plan for each individual to promote optimal health. With 1-on-1 consultations, cutting-edge technology, and a team of experts who care about getting you better, MOCEAN offers you a comprehensive road map on how to become the healthiest version of yourself.