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CamilleRN, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4183
Experience:  Experience: 20 yrs experience in ER, ICU, Neuro, OR, Chemo,Cardiology, Dermatology and MORE.
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Found a possible swollen lymph node or cyst behind my left

Customer Question

Found a possible swollen lymph node or cyst behind my left ear.
Size: Tough to say exactly - smaller than my fingernail so I'll say 5-8mm. It looks very similar to an average-sized mosquito bite. If I gently feel my skin in the area it sometimes feels like it's hardly there. Only upon palpation can I really feel it.
Location: top of neck at the base of my skull - behind left ear (posterior cervical / posterior auricular gland)
How long: Maybe 6 days, maybe 6 years. I just noticed it about a week ago.
Consistency: Doesn't move much but it's hard to get a grip on. It's spongy.
Pain? Not really any pain or tenderness
Changing size? Not really - may have gotten smaller but it tends to feel smaller or larger depending on which way I turn my head, even time of day. Definitely hasn't increased in the past six days.
A friend of mine who is a nurse looked at it and didn't seem too concerned. Suggested wait-and-see and said it felt spongy and slightly moveable and that felt like it might be a "lipoma" (sp?)
Most of the time I rub my finger gently in the area and can barely feel it. When I press down in that area I do feel a spongy lump, perhaps around 5-8mm in diameter - just a little smaller than my fingernail. I could be crazy, but I swear it can feel bigger or smaller depending on time of day, which way I turn my head, etc. What I'm trying to figure out is if this is just a wait-and-see or whether I should be immediately concerned. I'm kind of a hypochondriac and panic easily - I don't want to have the drs office on speed dial so I'm trying to get a perspective on this.
And just because a lymph node is palpable, does that necessarily mean it is enlarged?
36 yo, no other swellings, no other symptoms, decent health but overweight. No family history of cancer. Slight family history of high blood pressure. Grandfather may have been diabetic.
family history of sinus issues (though I never had a serious infection myself).
history of dental issues and root infections but don't no abscesses that I know of. none recent
When I was a child I had allergies. Don't know what kind, I know my pediatrician said the word "adenoids" a lot. I had ear-tube surgery when I was 6.
I am prone to occasional nasal and ear congestion, and ear wax buildup. If I shake my head or move my jaw it feels like there's some "rattling" and cracking inside the ear.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  CamilleRN replied 6 years ago.
CamilleRN :

Welcome to JustAnswer Health...and thank you for your question. I am a verified Expert and am delighted to help you today. This can be an enlarged Lymph node... or it can also be a lipoma, as your friend stated. As you may know... a lymph node can enlarge anytime there is inflammation or infection in the area. A sinus infection, a bad tooth, a sore throat , an ear infection ...can all cause an enlarged lymph node in the area you are describing. A benign enlarged lymph node is usually soft and feels like a round slightly firm opposed to cancer which is usually firm and hard. A lipoma is a benign fatty tumor. For your peace of mind I would recommend you have your Doctor take a look at it. It is most likely not concerning...but it will help you to KNOW that.