Medical Q&As

Lump behind ear - lymph gland?

I have three lumps (about the size of five penny coin) on the bone behind my right ear. Are they glands or what?

These sound like lymph nodes or glands. The particular glands you are referring to are known as the retro-auricular lymph glands. These glands enlarge in response to infection in the region that they drain, which includes the external ear and a portion of the side of the head. It is possible that you may recently have had a minor scratch on your scalp or perhaps you had an episode of infection in the outer part of your ear. The glands often enlarge in response to infestation of the scalp so it may be worthwhile having your scalp inspected to exclude that possibility. Several times I have observed such glandular enlargement in the case of people with pierced ears, especially piercing that extends along the rim of the ear. Sometimes the glands enlarge as part of a generalised lymph node enlargement throughout the body in response to a viral infection. The usual pattern is for the glands to remain enlarged for a couple of weeks and then reduce in size. Persistent painless enlargement of lymph glands that is not readily explainable warrants medical assessment.