Swollen glands in neck are referred to as lymphadenopathy, which means swelling of the lymph nodes. This condition usually occurs when lymphatic glands enlarge due to disease or injury.
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and works to remove disease-causing germs from your body. Having swollen glands in neck is a frequent medical ailment that can result in various complications for the patient. In addition, swollen glands in neck can be caused by infections, cancer, and other health conditions.
In some cases, swollen glands in the neck indicate a severe medical condition requiring medical attention. Hence, knowing more about the function of the lymphatic system and how to treat swelling in it can help people with medical conditions or injuries. This article provides information on swollen neck glands and treatment options.
Signs of Swollen Glands in Neck
If you have swollen lymph nodes, you may have the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- A feeling of fullness or pain in the neck
- A sore throat or earache
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss.
A doctor should evaluate these symptoms immediately if there’s a pain when swallowing, night sweats, weight loss, aching bones, difficulty breathing, or coughing up blood.
Common Causes of Swollen Glands in Neck
Knowing what causes swollen glands can help identify whether you need medical attention. There are varieties of factors that can cause swollen glands in your neck. Depending on the severity, this swelling can occur on one or both sides of your neck. The following are some causes of enlarged lymph nodes in the neck:
Infections like tuberculosis, Lyme disease, and malaria can cause swollen glands. Bacterial infections and viral infections may also cause your glands to swell. These types of conditions are often mild and resolve on their own without treatment.
- Viral infections: Infections such as mononucleosis, influenza, and HIV
- Bacterial infections: streptococcal infection or meningitis
Swollen glands in adults’ necks may result from cancer. Cancerous tumors can cause inflammation of the lymph nodes, resulting in swollen glands.
In cancer, the tumor can press on nearby organs, causing them to swell and feel complete. The lymph nodes in the neck may also enlarge as they try to fight off the cancer cells.
About 20% of adults with swollen glands in their necks have cancer. Cancerous tumors are often found in the lymph nodes, tiny sacs containing white blood cells and other substances that help fight infection and disease.
Allergies to pollen, grasses, and dust mites can make you more likely to develop swollen glands around your neck. Some people also experience itching after exposure to certain fragrances or chemicals in perfumes and cosmetics. If you have allergies to these materials, you may notice swelling around your neck when exposed.
4. Hormonal changes
Hormonal changes can also be one of the causes of swollen glands in your neck. If your hormone levels change over time, it can affect your body’s ability to regulate them.
Additionally, it results in an imbalance of hormones that leads to a swollen gland in your neck or other parts of your body.
5. Genetic problems
In rare cases, there may be genetic problems that can cause you to have swollen glands in the neck. This condition may occur if one or more of your parents has a disorder that causes similar symptoms or if you have family members who suffer from these conditions too. When it gets to this case, your physician can adequately identify and treat the disease.
6. Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety can also increase the chances of developing swollen glands in your neck due to their effect on your endocrine system (hormones).
7. Submandibular lymphadenopathy
When your sinuses become inflamed, you may experience swelling around your neck. This condition is called submandibular lymphadenopathy (submandibular lymphadenopathy).
Mononucleosis is a common viral infection that can also cause swollen glands in your neck. Sometimes it can cause fever and fatigue, but most often, it just causes flu-like symptoms like sore throat and stomach pain. These symptoms usually go away after about two weeks.
Other causes of swollen glands in the neck are:
- Inflammation (Inflammation from conditions like tonsillitis or an ear infection)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Colds and flu
- Strep throat
- Dental infections
- Skin wounds
- Injury to your neck
What are the treatments for swollen glands in neck?
There are multiple treatments for neck lymph node enlargement. They can range from medications to surgery. In most cases, the swelling will go down after a few days.
However, call your doctor’s office immediately if it doesn’t and you notice it getting worse. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment for you depending on what is causing the swelling and its severity.
1. find out the Causes
The first step to treating swollen lymph nodes in the neck is to find out what is causing them to swell. Doctors treat neck swelling by applying pressure to the area, applying ice packs, and restricting movement while sleeping.
Additionally, some people report that applying ice packs to the area and walking around in a cold environment reduces swelling.
Another treatment option is acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and reduce pain. Some studies have shown that acupuncture reduces discomfort caused by swollen areas.
If your lymph nodes are still swollen after a week, your doctor will likely start you on an antibiotic such as doxycycline (Vibramycin) or minocycline (Minocin) to fight infection.
These antibiotics won’t affect the swollen glands directly, but they will help prevent infection from spreading throughout your body. In addition, these medications may make it easier for the glands to shrink down over time.
Treatment with corticosteroids is used when the swelling is severe enough to cause discomfort or interfere with daily activities. Corticosteroids reduce swelling by reducing the amount of fluid volume in a person’s body;
they also decrease inflammation and pain caused by swelling. Corticosteroid injections are often given until symptoms improve or disappear; most people experience relief within three days of starting treatment with corticosteroids.
The swelling can sometimes spread to other body parts (metastatic). Your doctor may recommend that you see a surgeon if this happens. Surgery is the treatment for large, infected lumps.
First, the doctor will remove the lump and any surrounding inflamed or infected tissue. This procedure goes with local anesthesia but may also require general anesthesia. Recovery time after surgery is usually two to three days.
5. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is another option for treating large, infected lumps in the neck caused by cancerous tumors or thyroid disorders.
The doctor will deliver X-rays to kill off any remaining cancer cells and shrink the tumor so that it cannot grow back or spread to other parts of your body. After treatment, you may be required to remain in the hospital for many days.
Swollen Glands in the Neck of Children
Children’s necks are home to many different glands and organs that help regulate their bodies’ temperature, digestion, and more. As a result, a child’s neck may be swollen, especially with a fever.
The swelling may be more prominent on one side of the neck but can occur on both sides. Swollen glands in children’s channels are normal.
In most cases, they’re not something to worry about when it happens. However, if your child has swollen glands that cause discomfort or pain, they could signify something more serious going on inside your child’s body. Therefore, you must contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Signs Your Child May Have Swollen Glands in Neck
- Some signs that your child may have swollen glands include:
- Restlessness at night or during the day
- Headaches with no known cause
- A sore throat
- Soreness behind the ear
- Swelling in your child’s neck like redness, tenderness, or pain
There are several reasons your child can have swollen glands in the neck. Here are some common causes:
Thyroid problems: Thyroid gland problems can cause swelling and pain in the neck, chest, and throat areas.
Infection: Children with infections often have swollen glands in their necks. Their body’s immune response (specifically T cells) is heightened due to illness.
This condition means that more white blood cells are in circulation, which triggers an overproduction of fluid from the lymph nodes (lymph nodes are small structures that filter out bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances).
The fluid accumulates in these nodes and drains down into the surrounding ducts. If much pressure is exerted on these ducts, they could become blocked and cause inflammation around these nodes – this is what causes swollen glands in children’s necks.
Fever: Children can also develop swollen glands with a high temperature without other symptoms, such as pain or redness around their neck.
Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis is an infection that affects the lungs and other parts of the body. It can cause swollen glands in neck area and sometimes produce a thick white discharge from either ear canal or both ears. Sometimes, this discharge is bloody or greenish-yellow in color.
Pneumonia is a respiratory system infection that can cause swollen glands in your child’s neck or underarm region. You may see symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath after exposure to someone else with pneumonia or if they develop pneumonia themselves due to another illness.
Treatments for swollen glands in children’s neck
Your doctor may want to examine your child’s neck to see if they have chronic hives, a rash, or other symptoms unrelated to their health. Why? Some conditions that cause swollen glands can lead to serious health problems, such as blood clots or anemia.
He may also want to perform an ultrasound of the thyroid gland. This test will help determine if there’s an issue with thyroid function.
In addition, your child’s doctor may also recommend another test to check for pituitary gland problems — prolactin levels (a hormone produced by the pituitary gland) — if symptoms persist after she undergoes treatment for thyroid disease or other disorders affecting this part of the brain.
When to see the doctor
Swollen glands in neck can be caused by various medical conditions, ranging from benign to severe. Some are little more than an annoyance, while others can signal the beginning of something much more powerful, such as throat cancer or HIV/AIDS.
If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in size or pain, see your doctor as soon as possible. It may also be wise to contact your doctor immediately if your lymph nodes are enlarged for more than two weeks or if you have other worrisome symptoms.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. If necessary, they may recommend lab tests to help determine the cause of your swollen lymph nodes. Don’t panic, though, most people with swollen glands have anything more than an infected hair follicle, fungal infection, or cancer, and treatment usually leads to full recovery.