When the ear hurts, and when you press it, a ball is found, it signals that the body’s lymphatic system has responded to inflammatory processes in the ear area, and there has been an increase in the lymph nodes: this is how the immune system is producing antibodies trying to cope with the infection that struck the body.
To provoke an increase in the lymph nodes behind the ears can any disease that are near the organ of hearing. These can be inflammations in the ear (otitis media, eustachitis, furuncle, neuritis of the auditory nerve), nasopharynx, acute respiratory infections.
What is parotid lymph nodes
The lymphatic system is one of the systems that protects the body from diseases, identifying and destroying microbes that have entered the body, tumor cells (that is, it is part of the human immune system). When a pathogenic microorganism enters the body, it is the first to react with the production of lymphocytes that produce antibodies to combat toxins and microbes.
For this reason, the lymph nodes are filters that absorb and destroy toxins and pathogens. Another task of the lymphatic system is to purify the blood and transfer nutrients and enzymes throughout the body.
The parotid lymph nodes are located along the posterior auricular vein. In the normal state, they are soft to the touch and impossible to probe them. But as soon as microbes penetrate into the body and begin the destructive process, the lymph nodes located nearby increase, become solid and dense.
Therefore, they are easy to feel, to the touch they begin to resemble one or more balls of various sizes, from 0.5 to 50 mm. After that, the lymph nodes produce antibodies to kill the infection, collect neutralized toxins and microbes, and then remove them.
The main reasons why the parotid lymph nodes in an adult and a child increase are:
- inflammation of the organ of hearing;
- dental problems;
- diseases of the pharynx: tonsillitis, pharyngitis, inflammation of the tonsils;
- acute respiratory diseases that are accompanied by a bad cold;
- infectious diseases: rubella, mumps;
- lymphoma (malignant tumor of the lymph nodes).
If the reason is an increase in the lymph nodes in one of these ailments, after appropriate therapy, everything is usually normalized, the lymph nodes are reduced. Therefore, doctors diagnose the appearance of balls behind the ear as a reaction of the lymphatic system to infection (lymphadenopathy).
In a separate category, there are cases when an infection in an adult or child causes severe inflammation of the lymph nodes, as a result of which they not only swell up, but also begin to ache. This disease is called lymphadenitis and is characterized by inflammation of the lymph node itself, which was provoked by infectious cells from other places of inflammation.
What are the signs?
The main symptom of lymphadenitis is a strongly enlarged lymph node, which, when probed, gives pain in the ear and under the jaw. Also, the skin may turn red in the ear area, and swelling will appear around the balls.
If lymphadenitis began to fester, the “bump” behind the ear of an adult or child not only hurts, but also lets you know about the ailment with the following symptoms:
- severe migraines;
- high temperature, which exceeds + 38 ° C;
- loss of appetite;
- pustular rash;
- very strong throbbing or shooting pain in the ears.
Even if the symptoms are not all present, the situation is dangerous and it is necessary to urgently call a doctor: any inflammation near the brain can cause a lethal outcome.
In the absence of therapy, purulent lymphadenitis may be the cause of infection of the blood or adenophlegmon when the lymph node ruptures and the pus flows into nearby tissues.
Diagnosis and therapy
Since the lymph node located behind the ear in an adult and child can increase with any problems with the ENT organs, acute respiratory diseases and other ailments in the ear area, it is very important to inform the doctor about all the diseases that have recently suffered. This will help the doctor to take the right treatment about the ailment treatment regimen.
Diagnosis of enlarged lymph nodes is carried out by palpation. This allows you to determine not only the size of the balls, but also how painful they are. In addition to the parotid lymph nodes, the doctor makes an examination of the cervical and occipital glands of an adult or a child, and also focuses on the tonsils, thyroid, lacrimal, and salivary glands. Typically, such an examination and information about recent illnesses allowed the doctor to diagnose the disease and prescribe therapy.
In a normal situation, after the treatment of the main disease, the lymph nodes of the child or adult normalize. It should be borne in mind that an enlarged lymph node to reduce pain and other unpleasant signs is prohibited to warm up: this will lead to increased inflammation.
If the medicines prescribed by the doctor did not bring the expected result, and the lymph nodes not only did not diminish, but even increased to three or four centimeters, and the ball became very hard and dense, this means that the inflammatory process affected the tissues near it. To find out the size and intensity of the inflammatory process, prescribe a blood test.
If the results of the doctor’s tests are alerted, he may prescribe an x-ray, an ultrasound examination, and a CT scan. This will determine the presence of a tumor and its nature: the inflammation of the lymph node often signals a lymphoma. To exclude this point, you may need a biopsy.
In the absence of a tumor, if the ailment is of bacterial origin, antibiotics are used for the treatment. If you are allergic to any drugs, you must inform the doctor. If the disease is of viral origin, antibiotics are ineffective and can harm: destroying pathogens, they kill the beneficial microflora, weakening the body.
In this case, the doctor prescribes other medications. If purulent lymphadenitis is accompanied by a necrotic process, the doctor may decide on the opening of ulcers with subsequent therapy.