Potential Causes Of A Headache Behind The Ears

If your head or face pounds with a consistent sharp or dull pain then you may have a headache. Overall, headaches are no fun and can make it hard to do everyday tasks. 

At some point or another, most people have experienced a headache. In fact, it is estimated that about 45 million Americans suffer from headaches every year (per iHate Headaches). While many people get headaches, not all headaches are the same. Cleveland Clinic notes that headaches can be classified into primary and secondary categories. Primary headaches — like tension headaches — come from the hyper-activity of pain-sensitive parts of the head and can be brought on by coughing, laughing, drinking alcohol, bad posture, nicotine, and even hunger. Secondary headaches — like dehydration headaches — come from not drinking enough water. The headache is a symptom of the condition.

Headaches can occur in different locations. If you have experienced headaches located behind your ears, then you might wonder what the cause could be. Here's what you need to know about these kinds of headaches.

Should you be worried about headaches behind your ears?

If you feel aches, a burning sensation, or pounding pain on one or both sides of your head behind your ears, then you may be experiencing a behind-the-ear headache (via Medical News Today). Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, pain when moving your neck, and a tender-to-the-touch scalp. While behind-the-ear headaches are not typically life-threatening or common, symptoms like confusion, lockjaw, fever, weight loss, seizure, and vomiting require medical attention (per Healthline).

There are several potential causes for these types of headaches. If you pinch a nerve in your neck, then a condition known as occipital neuralgia can cause pain in the back of the head. Notably, keeping your neck in a bent position for long periods of time can lead to this condition. The pain in the back of your head can also come from dental issues such as an abscessed or impacted tooth. If the bone located behind your ear — the mastoid — becomes infected, then it can cause mastoiditis and a headache behind the ear. Finally, another potential cause for a headache behind the ear could be from inflammation of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ).