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What can cause sharp pain behind ear?

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Quick Answer

Sharp pain behind an ear is often caused by an infection in the middle ear, especially when redness or swelling on the outer ear accompanies pain, as FamilyDoctor.org explains. A ruptured ear drum, an enlarged lymph node or mastoditis, an infection in the bone behind the ear, may also cause pain behind the ear. Severe pain behind the ear requires a medical professional's evaluation to determine the appropriate treatment.

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Full Answer

Mastoiditis, a bacterial infection, affects the bone directly behind the ear, and it can cause sharp pains when the cells become inflamed or infected, as WebMD describes. The condition commonly develops when a middle ear infection does not heal properly. Mastoiditis can spread to other areas of the ear and body, causing serious health problems that require immediate medical attention.

Chronic mastoidits, a continuous middle ear infection, can produce drainage from the ear in addition to sharp pain behind the ear, according to WebMD. Additional symptoms include swelling of the ear lobe, irritability, fever, lethargy, and tenderness or redness behind the ear. Physicians diagnose the cause of pain behind the ear by collecting blood tests and X-rays, but they may find it necessary to perform an ear culture to remove substances or fluid from the ear to identify the infection. Severe infections may require an MRI or CT scan to uncover the source of the pain.

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