The lymph nodes swollen neck is a clinical sign seen on the occasion of different conditions, including for example pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, gingivitis,’ tooth abscess, influenza, mononucleosis, AIDS, cancers of the mouth-throat compartment, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, insect bites on the neck and rheumatoid arthritis. This article will give you a complete guide about the swollen lymph node in the neck.
In essence, the swollen lymph node in the neck can respond to the human body to the presence of infectious states, tumours, trauma and autoimmune diseases. Characterized by one or more painful swellings, swollen lymph node in the neck is easy to diagnose; their identification, in fact, requires a simple palpatory examination of the region between the head and the clavicles.
A brief review of what lymph nodes are
The lymph nodes are small ovoid organs of the lymphatic system, having a vital immune role; they act as collection points for part of the B and T lymphocytes ( cells of the immune system ). To intercept and destroy any germs, foreign substances, and/or neoplastic cells circulating in the lymph (the lymph is the fluid similar to the plasma. Which flows along the lymphatic vessels and receives waste substances present in the tissues). Acting identical to purifiers, lymph nodes are often referred to as biological filters.
What are Swollen Lymph Nodes on the Neck?
The swollen lymph nodes in the neck, or neck lymph nodes swollen, are a typical sign of several medical conditions, including infectious conditions, autoimmune diseases, trauma based on the neck, and even tumours.
A brief clarification on terminology
Before continuing with the reading, two terminological notes are required:
- Lymphadenopathy, swollen lymph nodes, and enlarged lymph nodes are synonymous.
- The adjective “lymph node” indicates “all that is attributable to the lymph nodes.”
Notes on anatomy relating to the lymph nodes of the neck
According to a more generic classification, under the heading “lymph nodes of the neck” belong the lymph nodes that reside:
- Behind the ears ( posterior auricular lymph nodes ).
- In correspondence with the occipital bone of the skull ( occipital lymph nodes ).
- Under the ear and next to where the mandible engages with the skull’s temporal bone, forming the temporomandibular joint ( jugulo-digastric lymph node ).
- Under the mandible ( submandibular lymph nodes ).
- Just above the collarbone ( supraclavicular lymph nodes ).
- The real neck ( superficial cervical lymph nodes, deep cervical lymph nodes, and posterior cervical lymph nodes ).
According to a more specific classification, however, the definition “neck lymph nodes” only includes lymph nodes based on the neck’s anatomical region (i.e., the actual neck mentioned above). Thus, according to this classification, the neck’s lymph nodes are only the superficial cervical lymph nodes. The deep cervical lymph nodes and the posterior cervical lymph nodes.
In this article, the wording “swollen lymph node in the neck” refers to lymphadenopathy of the neck’s lymph nodes falling within the first classification, the most generic, and with the most extensive meaning.
Did you know that
When the neck’s swollen lymph node is exclusively the cervical ones, doctors speak of cervical lymphadenopathy.
Causes: Swollen Lymph Node In Neck
Some of the main causes of the swollen lymph node in the neck include:
- Pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis, respectively, inflammation of the pharynx, palatine tonsils, and larynx.
- Gingivitis, dental abscesses, and pericoronitis. Gingivitis is the gum’s inflammation; dental abscess is an unusual accumulation of bacteria, white blood cells, plasma, and pus, around the tissues surrounding a tooth; finally, pericoronitis is the portion’s acute inflammation of the gum surrounding an erupting tooth.
- Ear infections or ear inflammation.
- Common viral diseases, such as rubella, chickenpox, influenza, and mononucleosis.
- AIDS, i.e., the’ viral infection sustained by HIV.
- The non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Lymphomas are non-Hodgkin’s cancer of the lymphatic system that arise because of the uncontrolled proliferation of lymphocytes B and/or T cells located in the lymph nodes and primary and secondary lymphoid organs.
- The mouth-throat sector’s tumours, such as cancer of the mouth, throat cancer, and tongue cancer.
- Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Examples of autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, are, respectively, the joints’ suffering and a multi-systemic condition (i.e. affecting multiple organs).
- Insect stings or bites located in the neck.
Inflammation of the pharynx (i.e. the back of the mouth) is the condition commonly known as a sore throat. The cause of a sore throat can be caused by viruses (including rhinovirus, the Coronavirus and the’ Adenovirus ), bacteria (including Streptococcus group A beta-hemolytic, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae ) and non-infectious agents (such as, for example, the allergies, the gastroesophageal reflux and inhalation of substances irritating ). In a pharyngitis context, the presence of swollen lymph nodes on the neck mainly involves the superficial, deep and posterior cervical lymph nodes and the submandibular lymph nodes.
Tonsillitis: Swollen Lymph Node In Neck
Tonsillitis recognizes its root causes in the virus, such as rhinovirus, the coronavirus, the adenovirus and Epstein Barr virus, and bacteria, such as Streptococcus group A beta-hemolytic and Streptococcus pyogenes. In the presence of tonsillitis, the phenomenon of enlarged lymph nodes on the neck usually has the superficial and deep cervical lymph nodes, the submandibular lymph nodes and the jugulo-digastric lymph node as main actors.
Laryngitis: Swollen Lymph Node In Neck
Inflammation of the larynx and vocal cords contained in the larynx is attributable to various factors, including viruses (e.g., rhinovirus, influenza virus, varicella virus, Coronavirus and Adenovirus), bacteria (e.g., Bordetella pertussis ), fungi ( ex: Candida albicans and Aspergillus ) and excessive use of the voice. When there is laryngitis, a swollen lymph node in the neck tends to have the upper and deep cervical lymph nodes as protagonists.
Gingivitis, dental abscesses and pericoronitis
Gingivitis, dental abscesses and pericoronitis are inflammations in which bacteria play a fundamental causal / favouring role. In their presence, the phenomenon of enlarged lymph nodes in the neck sees the participation above all of the submandibular lymph nodes and deep cervical lymph nodes.
Otitis media is almost always a consequence of bacterial infections sustained by pathogens such as Haemophilus influenza, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Streptococcus pneumonia; l’ otitis externa is most often the result of mycosis ( fungal infections ) or pathogens with a predilection for humid environments. When there is otitis, enlarged lymph nodes on the neck recognise its most important players in the posterior auricular lymph nodes and the upper cervical lymph nodes.
Rubella, chickenpox, flu and mononucleosis
The viral pathogens responsible for rubella, chickenpox, influenza and mononucleosis are rubella virus, varicella-zoster virus, influenza virus and Epstein-Barr virus. On the occasion of these known viral diseases, the presence of swollen lymph nodes on the neck usually plays a prominent role in the superficial, deep and posterior cervical lymph nodes.
AIDS: Swollen Lymph Node In Neck
In AIDS, the swollen lymph node in the neck, together with the swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and the retro-nuchal compartment, is a characteristic sign of the early stage of infection, which is equivalent to the stage following the so-called latency stage of AIDS.
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In non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, enlarged lymph nodes on the neck represent one of the effects of indiscriminate and unregulated reproduction of B and T lymphocytes in the lymph nodes (i.e. in the lymph nodes).
Did you know that
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are related to cervical lymphadenopathy, axillary lymphadenopathy, and inguinal lymphadenopathy.
Tumours of the mouth-throat compartment
In cancers of the mouth, throat, tongue and the like, the enlarged lymph nodes on the neck result from the large accumulation of neoplastic cells in the lymph node. Generally, oral cancers affect the deep cervical lymph nodes; however, in some circumstances, they also affect the other cervical lymph nodes (superficial and posterior) and the submandibular.
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Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus
In rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, swollen lymph nodes on the neck result from abnormal behaviour of immune cells when an autoimmune disease progresses. Autoimmune diseases, in fact, are particular clinical conditions. The symptoms and signs are due to a malfunction of the immune system: the immune cells, instead of merely carrying out their normal action against external threats (viruses, bacteria, etc.), are aggressive towards the organism they should protect.
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Insect bites: Swollen Lymph Node In Neck
Insect stings or bites on or near the neck cause swollen lymph node in the neck when infection arises, which produces an inflammatory response and draws immune cells to the lymph node.
Other causes of swollen lymph nodes on the neck:
- Histoplasmosis (fungal infection)
- Brucellosis (bacterial infection)
- Toxoplasmosis (a parasitic infection)
- Secondary syphilis (bacterial infection)
- Infections Herpesvirus
- Infection by cytomegalovirus
- Leukaemia (blood cancers)
- Laryngeal cancer
- Malignant tumour in the chest
- Reactions to drugs or vaccines
Swollen lymph nodes on the neck are responsible for often painful swelling. The pain caused by enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. It may be a constant presence or reveal itself only to palpation of the swelling.
Acute or gradual enlargement: what can this mean?
Swollen lymph nodes on the neck can result from an acute enlargement process. Generally, the swelling process of the lymph nodes in the neck is acute. When the underlying cause is an infection or trauma. At the same time, it is gradual when the underlying cause is a tumour or autoimmune disease.
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The symptoms and signs that may accompany the presence of enlarged lymph nodes on the neck are numerous and depend on the condition triggering the enlarged lymph node.
Going more specifically, among the symptoms and signs in question, they certainly deserve mention:
- Pain in the throat.
- Runny nose (runny nose).
- Red throat.
- Dry throat.
- Itching in the throat.
- Ear pain (ear pain).
- Stuffy nose and consequent breathing difficulties.
- Drop invoice.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Pain in the jaw.
- Generalized fatigue.
In the presence of enlarged lymph nodes on the neck, the possible occurrence of complications depends on the severity of the cause of the enlarged lymph node and the remaining symptoms. In other words, swollen lymph nodes on the neck can be associated with complications if the underlying condition is clinically relevant.
Examples of conditions that cause lymphadenopathy of the neck and from which, given their severity, complications can arise are: throat cancer, mouth cancer, tongue cancer, AIDS and cases of infections not subjected to the right treatment.
When to see a doctor?
The swollen lymph nodes on the neck are a sign that should not be underestimated but, indeed, should be brought to the attention of the attending physician when:
- They are persistent.
- They accompany all’ingrossamento other nodes (e.g., lymph nodes, inguinal lymph nodes etc.).
- So they are accompanied by a rich and/or severe symptomatology (e.g., high fever, severe difficulty in swallowing and chewing, intense pain in the throat, etc.).
- A sore tooth accompanies them.
To detect enlarged lymph nodes on the neck, just the neck’s palpation examination, a classic performed during physical examination.
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What’s the next step?
Once the presence of swollen lymph nodes on the neck has been ascertained, the doctor starts the necessary investigations to identify the triggering cause of the lymph node enlargement process. Diagnosing the causes of swollen lymph nodes on the neck is essential for planning the most appropriate therapy.
The diagnostic procedure that allows tracing the causal factors of lymphadenopathy of the neck always starts from the anamnesis and the account of the associated symptoms, carried out by the patient; therefore, based on the circumstances and what emerges from the investigations just mentioned, it can continue with:
- Blood tests.
- A throat swab.
- Diagnostic imaging tests ( X-rays, magnetic resonance, CT scan etc.) with particular reference to the oral cavity and neck.
- Endoscopy of the upper aerodigestive and larynx.
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Therapy: Swollen Lymph Node In Neck
In the presence of enlarged lymph nodes on the neck, the treatment adopted varies according to the triggering cause. In practical terms, this means that the presence of a swollen lymph node in the neck due to Rhinovirus pharyngitis requires treatment other than lymphadenopathy of the neck due to throat cancer. So in the next section, this article will consider the intended therapy in some of the most important circumstances responsible for swollen lymph nodes on the neck.
Examples of treatment in the presence of swollen lymph nodes on the neck
- If the swollen lymph nodes on the neck result from the common flu, treatment includes: rest until all symptoms have disappeared, taking analgesic and antipyretic drugs ( aspirin, NSAIDs or paracetamol ) to control fever, generous fluid intake and, finally, the consumption of easily digestible meals.
- If swollen lymph nodes on the neck area due to throat cancer, therapy includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy for less severe cases and surgery to remove the tumour for more critical cases.
- So if the swollen lymph nodes on the neck area due to severe pharyngitis, the patient will benefit from resting, drinking plenty of fluids, gargling with heated water and salt, taking anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, and from the practice of hot-humid inhalations.
- If swollen lymph nodes on the neck are related to bacterial tonsillitis, treatment involves administering antibiotics, combined with rest and generous fluid intake.
The clinical relevance of a swollen lymph node in the neck depends on the severity of the triggering condition. In other words, the more the clinical significance of the triggering cause is important. The more the swollen lymph node in the neck must cause concern and attract the doctor’s attention.