Lymph nodes are small bundles of white blood cells and part of your immune system. Precisely, they are part of your lymphatic system and help your body fight infections. These nodes are present in different areas throughout your body: neck is the most frequent area where your swollen glands occur, and you will also see swollen nodes under the jaw, behind the ears, or lower part of the back of your head.
Why Do You Have Swollen Glands in Neck?
You may have swollen glands in your neck due to different reasons. Here aresome for your understanding.
1. Common Infectious Causes
Your lymph nodes may swell due to bacterial or viral infections. It is important to seek treatment or these infections can cause serious complications and lead to secondary illnesses as well. Ear infection, common cold, influenza, infected tooth, measles, strep throat, and mononucleosis are some of the most common infections leading to swollen glands in neck. Similarly, you may develop swollen lymph nodes in the neck due to mumps or tonsillitis.
2. Less Common Infectious Causes
Swollen lymph nodes may be caused by some less common infections, such as AIDS, cellulitis, or cat scratch fever. The swelling may also occur due to a sexually transmitted disease called syphilis. Tuberculosis and toxoplasmosis may also lead to swelling of glands in your neck.
3. Autoimmune Diseases
Certain autoimmune diseases can also affect your immune system and cause swollen glands in neck. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is among the most common autoimmune diseases causing swollen lymph nodes. Similarly, a chronic inflammatory disease called lupus can also cause swelling of the lymph nodes – the disease targets your skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, heart, and lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis is another chronic inflammatory disease responsible for causing swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
In rare cases, you develop swollen glands due to cancer. This usually happens due to lymphoma, which originates in your lymphatic system. People with leukemia – the cancer of your lymphatic system and bone marrow – may also have swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
What Other Symptoms You May Have?
The most common symptoms include drooling, bleeding gums, earache, and flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, runny nose, headache, sore throat, and aches. Genital sores, rash, joint pain, and unexplained loss of appetite are other common symptoms you experience when you have swollen lymph nodes. In some rare cases, you have swollen lump, which usually happens due to lymph system blockage.
When Should You See Your Doctor?
Your swollen glands in neckusually become normal in a few days’ time, but you should see your doctor immediately if you have swollen neck lymph nodes that persist for few weeks and get bigger with time. You should talk to your doctor when you cannot move your lymph nodes by pressing on them. It is also a good idea to see your doctor if you also have a sore throat with night sweats and a persistent high temperature.
Your doctor will check all your symptoms and may order some tests to identify the underlying cause of swelling. They may ask for an ultrasound scan, blood tests, CT scan or a biopsy to make a correct diagnosis.
How to Relieve Your Discomfort?
As mentioned, you do not always need treatment to reduce swelling – your nodes become normal once your immune system has cleared the infection. If your lymph nodes become larger, you may want to talk to your doctor about it.
1. Medical Treatments
Your doctor will identify the underlying cause first and then prescribe antibiotics to clear any infection. They give you antibiotics when they know the swelling is due to a bacterial infection. You do not need antibiotics in case you have a viral infection.
They may also suggest you to take OTC pain relievers to reduce inflammation and pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are quite effective in this regard. You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce inflammation and make pain manageable. Be sure to talk to your doctor to know correct dosage requirement.
2. Home Remedies
You can also make your swollen glands in neckbecome normal by trying some home remedies. For instance:
- Massage: You can massage your lymph nodes gently for about 15 minutes to stimulate the lymph nodes and reduce swelling. Massage will also help get rid of any impurities trapped in those nodes, which will help bring your lymph nodes back to their normal size.
- Echinacea: Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, the herb works great to treat swollen glands in neck. Not only does it detoxify your blood, it also boosts your immune system. You can find it in the form of capsules, and you will have to take a 300mg capsule thrice a day to reduce swelling.
- Honey and Tea: Drinking a concoction of honey and hot tea may also help reduce swelling and make you feel relaxed as well. Be sure to drink it while it is still hot.
- Salt: Mix half-teaspoon of salt in a cup of hot water and use this solution to gargle. Repeat several times a day to get results.
- Peppermint: Obtained from mint leaves, it works because it contains menthol, which has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It works great to reduce swelling. Extract fresh juice from mint leaves or make mint tea using leaves for relief.