Parents of those with Down syndrome may be very concerned upon discovering a lump behind the ear of their child (or adult with this genetic condition).
“I have not specifically heard about an isolated lump behind the ear in Down’s patients.,” says Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat specialty).
“However, an enlarged postauricular lymph node, like most others, is an inflammatory response.”
The postauricular lymph node is located behind the ears. The function of a lymph node is to drain lymphatic fluid, and those located behind the ears are responsible for draining the fluid from the head and neck.
Dr. Silvers continues, “Down’s patients are more prone to ear infections and upper respiratory infections due to their variations in head and neck anatomy and palatal muscle tone.
This makes Down’s patients more prone to infection, as their anatomical protective mechanisms don’t function as well. Therefore, the more infections, the more lymph nodes will react and therefore enlarge.”
An infected lymph node is usually, but not always, tender or uncomfortable upon being touched.
“As ear infections are quite common, most Down’s patients require multiple sets of ventilating ear tubes in their lives,” continues Dr. Silvers.
“A chronically inflamed postauricular lymph node may be expected.”