By Medicover Hospitals / 11 Mar 2021
Neck swelling is a buildup of fluid in the tissues of the neck or inflammation in the neck. Neck swelling may be due to an infection, injury, or a recent medical procedure. Benign skin conditions can make small areas of the neck appear swollen. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck are a common symptom of many viral and bacterial infections. An enlarged thyroid gland is a known cause of neck swelling in adults. In rare cases, neck swelling can result from cancer.
- What is Neck Swelling?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What is Neck Swelling?
Small glands called lymph nodes filter lymph, a clear fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system. They swell in response to infections and tumors. Lymphatic fluid circulates through the lymphatic system, which comprises channels throughout the body that are like blood vessels. Lymph nodes are white blood cell storage glands. The killing of invading species is triggered by white blood cells. Treatment may not be necessary in mild cases of neck swelling. If neck swelling is bothersome, over-the-counter medications, such as anti-inflammatories or pain relievers, or cold compresses, can help reduce discomfort and swelling.
Swollen lymph nodes in the head and neck are usually caused by diseases such as:
More serious conditions, such as immune system disorders or cancers, can cause lymph nodes throughout the body to swell. Immune system disorders that cause swollen lymph nodes include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Any cancer that spreads through the body can cause the lymph nodes to swell. When cancer in one area spreads to the lymph nodes, the survival rate decreases. Lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system, also causes the lymph nodes to become swollen. Some medications and allergic reactions to medications can cause swollen lymph nodes. Anti-seizure and antimalarial drugs can do this too. Sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis or gonorrhea, can lead to swollen lymph nodes in the groin area.
- Ear infection
- Cold or flu
- Sinus infection
- HIV infection
- Infected tooth
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Skin infection
- Strep throat
Your doctor will begin by collecting details about your medical history and conducting a physical examination. They may get an idea of what is causing your glands to swell based on where on the body.
They may also recommend one of these tests to learn more about what is happening:
- Blood test
- Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves are used for your doctor to see what is happening inside your body.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan: A powerful magnet and radio waves are used to create detailed images of your organs and tissues.
- A biopsy is a term used to describe the phase of Under a microscope, lymph node tissue is removed and examined.
- PET scan: Tests chemical activity in parts of your body. It can help identify a variety of conditions, such as some cancers, heart disease, and brain disorders. This is done less frequently.
- Computed tomography: A series of X-rays are taken from different angles and put together to form a more complete image.
Swollen lymph nodes can get smaller on their own with no treatment. Sometimes, the doctor may want to monitor them without treatment. Antibiotics or antiviral medications may be prescribed with infections to remove the condition responsible for swollen lymph nodes. Your doctor may also prescribe medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil) to fight pain and inflammation. Swollen lymph nodes caused by cancer may not shrink to their normal size until the cancer is treated. The tumor and any infected lymph nodes can be removed as part of cancer care. Chemotherapy can also shrink the tumor.
When to visit a Doctor?
Most times, the swelling reduces and then disappears in 2 to 3 weeks after the body has successfully fought off the infection. If the problem persists for more than a couple of weeks, it could warrant a visit to the doctor.
Other reasons to visit the doctor include:
- A lymph node that to the touch feels stiff or rubbery
- A node that does not move freely
- A node with a diameter of an inch or more
- Swollen lymph nodes that accompany night sweats, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, or high fever
If the swollen lymph nodes are not caused by something serious, they will go away on their own. A few things can help with any discomfort while you wait for it to run its course:
- Warm compress: A washcloth rinsed in hot water and placed on the painful area can help relieve pain.
- Rest: Getting a good night's rest can help you get over a minor illness faster.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can make you feel better. (Talk to your doctor before giving aspirin to children or teens.)
Frequently Asked Questions:
Enlarged lymph nodes are the most common lumps or swellings. Bacterial or viral infections, cancer (malignancy), and other unusual causes may all result in these symptoms. Inflammation of the salivary glands under the jaw may be due to infection or cancer. Lumps in the neck muscles are caused by injury or torticollis.
The one-sided nature of your neck swelling can indicate different things depending on the cause. For example, the swelling can be one-sided because the lymph nodes on that particular side are more activated compared to the other.
Swollen lymph nodes usually occur as a result of infection by bacteria or viruses. Swollen lymph nodes are, in rare cases, caused by cancer.
- Rest and protect the painful area
- When applying ice and if you sit or lie down, lift the hurt or sore region on the pillows
- Without shifting for long stretches, stop sitting or standing
- A low sodium diet can help reduce bloating
Neck Swelling - https://insights.ovid.com/anet/197501000/00000542-197501000-00017
Neck Swelling - https://europepmc.org/article/med/9237416
Neck Swelling - https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiology.165.3.3317494