Updated at: 17-07-2023 - By: John Lau

Do you cringe at an unexpected pain beneath your ears every time you indulge in a sip of alcohol? This unusual phenomenon could indicate conditions such as parotitis or even Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Our insightful blog post aims to shed light on this peculiar symptom, its causes, and ways to manage it more effectively.

Ready to unlock the mystery behind that throbbing earache when enjoying your favorite cocktail? Let’s dive in.

Causes of Pain Under Ears When Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol intolerance and allergy

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Alcohol intolerance, often confused with an alcohol allergy, is a key culprit behind the puzzling pain under ears sensation experienced by some individuals after drinking alcohol. It’s not simply discomfort or inconvenience; this can signal towards more severe underlying disorders like Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Such intolerances or allergic reactions to alcoholic beverages typically involve histamine responses causing inflammation and swelling in different body parts, including the inner ear area – labyrinthitis- leading to vertigo and hearing loss.

In extreme cases, certain individuals may even experience stabbing sensations around their jaw or parotid gland area. So savoring that sour beer or wine could potentially trigger salivary gland stimulation resultant in excruciating jaw pain.

Therefore, understanding it as a symptom rather than an isolated occurrence is instrumental for recognizing potential health hazards that might need medical attention.

Carcinoid syndrome

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Carcinoid syndrome is a rare condition that can cause pain under the ears when drinking alcohol. This syndrome occurs when certain types of cancer, called carcinoid tumors, release hormones into the bloodstream.

These hormones can then cause various symptoms, including flushing of the skin, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, individuals with carcinoid syndrome may experience pain under the ears after consuming alcoholic beverages.

It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences pain under the ears while drinking alcohol has carcinoid syndrome. There can be other causes for this type of pain as well.

However, if you’re experiencing consistent or severe pain in this area after consuming alcohol, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis.


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Certain medications can also contribute to pain under the ears when drinking alcohol. Some drugs, such as certain antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines, can interact with alcohol and cause adverse effects.

These interactions may lead to increased inflammation or sensitivity in the salivary glands or inner ear, resulting in pain behind the ears.

The combination of alcohol and certain medications can have a significant impact on how the body reacts and functions, so it is crucial to understand these potential interactions for proper management of alcohol-related pain under the ears.

Alcohol-related pain in Hodgkin lymphoma

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Alcohol-related pain in Hodgkin lymphoma is a relatively uncommon symptom, but it can be a cause for concern. For individuals with this type of cancer, consuming alcohol may trigger sharp pain under the ears.

This pain occurs on the sides of the head behind the ears and should not be ignored. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience this type of pain after drinking alcohol, as it could indicate an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.

Other symptoms associated with Hodgkin lymphoma include swelling or tenderness in the lymph nodes after alcohol consumption, muscle or body pain, and possible jaw pain from stimulation of the parotid gland.

Mechanism of Alcohol-Related Pain

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Alcohol-related pain under the ears can occur due to various mechanisms. One possible explanation is the inflammation and swelling of the salivary glands, particularly the parotid glands, which are located beneath each cheek and ear.

Drinking alcohol can stimulate these glands and cause them to become inflamed, leading to pain in that area. In some cases, intense stimulation of the parotid glands from drinking sour wine or beer can even result in jaw pain.

Another potential mechanism involves irritation and swelling of the inner ear, known as labyrinthitis. This condition can be triggered by alcohol consumption and may lead to symptoms such as vertigo, hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus), and a feeling of inner ear fatigue.

The exact reason why alcohol induces inner ear inflammation is still not fully understood.

Additionally, certain individuals may experience alcohol intolerance where their bodies cannot properly metabolize alcohol. This intolerance can result in severe pain after drinking and might indicate an underlying disorder like Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Painful lymph nodes after consuming alcohol could also point towards this condition.

Understanding these mechanisms behind alcohol-related pain under the ears is crucial for managing this discomfort effectively while addressing any underlying conditions that may contribute to it.


In conclusion, pain under the ears when drinking alcohol can be caused by various factors, including alcohol intolerance and allergies, parotitis, underlying medical conditions like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and inner ear inflammation.

If you experience this type of pain, it is important to seek medical evaluation to determine the exact cause and manage it appropriately. Avoiding alcohol consumption may also help alleviate the discomfort.

Remember to prioritize your health and listen to your body’s signals.