Lymph nodes are organs of the immune system that protect the body from infections and foreign particles. They act as filters before they affect other parts of the body. They are ball-shaped and found throughout the body. When there is some infection, the lymph nodes react, and their response is manifested by inflammation. Commonly swollen glands occur in the neck, under the chin, armpits, or the groin. In this FastlyHealarticle, we will talk specifically about swollen lymph nodes in the neck, their causes, and treatment. In addition, we tell you when you should go to the doctor and what happens if the nodes are not treated.
Table of Contents
When to see the doctor
On many occasions, the swollen lymph nodes in the neck return to their natural state by themselves when the infection is minor and disappears. However, you should pay particular attention and go to the doctor as soon as possible in the following cases:
- If the swollen glands have appeared suddenly and without apparent cause.
- When they are enlarged or remain for two to four weeks.
- If they are hard or rubbery to the touch. You should also see a doctor if they don’t move when you press them.
- If they are accompanied by a persistent fever, sweating, or weight loss.
Swollen glands in the neck: causes
The most common cause of swollen glands in the neck is a viral infection, known as the common cold. When this appears, the lymph nodes react to the virus or foreign body and swell, causing them to be much more noticeable in the neck. Also, they can cause a sore throat.
However, it is not the only type of infection that can cause swollen glands.
Among the most common infections that occur with swollen glands in the neck are:
- Strep throat is also known as strep throat. It is a streptococcal infection with fever, sore throat, and swollen glands.
- Ear infections
- Conditions in the teeth.
- Mononucleosis – A disease that can lead to swollen glands in addition to fever and sore throat.
- Skin infections
- HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes the disease AIDS.
Other infections can also cause swollen glands, although they are less common. For instance:
- Some sexually transmitted infections (STDs) such as syphilis.
- Toxoplasmosis: it is a parasite infection that can appear when eating the undercooked meat. Special care is taken during pregnancy.
- Cat scratch fever is a bacterial infection that usually appears due to a scratch or bite of an animal.
In addition to infections, immune system disorders can cause swollen glands in the neck, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
The nodes that are more swollen from cancer may also be noted. In this case, more than an inflammation, which could also be, it would rather be the disease in that area or has spread. In the case of cancer, it could be:
- Lymphoma is cancer that occurs in the lymphatic system.
- Leukemia. It is cancer of the tissue that makes up blood in the body, including the bone marrow and lymphatic system.
- It could be a metastasis, another type of cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Complications of swollen lymph nodes
As we have seen, when it is a common cold, the swollen glands tend to deflate independently. However, if this does not happen and the infection is not treated, some complications could occur, such as:
An abscess forms, which is a localized collection of pus. The pus has fluids, white blood cells, dead tissue, bacteria, and other foreign bodies in the body, so it must be treated with antibiotics and drained.
When the infection is bacterial, it can progress and lead to sepsis, a severe condition that can affect the bloodstream. In this case, it must be treated urgently since sepsis can lead to organ failure and even cause death. It is usually treated with intravenous antibiotics and requires hospitalization. To know if it is sepsis, you have to pay attention to its symptoms, such as:
- I am shaking chills.
- Fever or shallow temperature.
- Fast heartbeat
Swollen Neck Glands: Treatment
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck do not have a specific treatment because what must be treated is the infection that is causing them. If it is a bacterial infection, it will be treated with antibiotics, while a viral one disappears on its own without the need to administer any drug. For this reason, when it comes to cold is not usually treated with medication, although pain relievers can be given to treat the symptoms.
However, when the nodes are painful, there are some tips that you can follow to alleviate it as much as possible :
- Apply heat to the area: use a cloth soaked in warm water and wrung out well.
- Analgesics for pain: when it comes to a cold, you are probably already taking them. If not, you can use pain relievers to relieve both pain and fever.
- Rest: Sometimes, the best way to fully recover is to get adequate rest. When it comes to a viral infection, rest can help faster recovery, and therefore the lymph nodes will return to their natural state more quickly.
However, as we have said before, when the lymph nodes last longer than usual or continue to grow, it is better to see a doctor as soon as possible.
This article is merely informative; at FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Swollen neck nodes: causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Immune system category.
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.