Taking Care of Swollen Lymph Nodes on the Neck
Lymph nodes can be found in clusters in different areas of the body. Most of us though, probably learned about the existence of lymph nodes through those found in the neck area. Some of us may have experienced neck lymph node swelling when we were kids. In a lot of cases, the inflammation may have been due to colds or a throat infection. It is about time though that you should know that different areas of the neck have lymph nodes and they may swell for reasons other than common ones.
Neck Lymph Nodes
Like all other lymph node clusters, the nodes in different areas in the neck are filter areas for the lymph that pass through the different cells. Lymph in specific areas around the neck passes through specific lymph nodes. It is therefore possible to have a clue on your possible condition just by knowing the location of the swollen lymph node.
The lymph nodes under the jaw for example are the filter sites for the lymph that bathes the lips, mouth and tongue. Its enlargement may mean that you may have ear or eye infection. Lymph nodes that lie on the muscle of the neck filter fluid from the tongue and tonsils. Swelling in this area may be a sign of pharyngitis. There are other lymph nodes in other parts of the neck area. It does not mean though that the swollen areas will always be an indication of exclusive conditions.
In most cases, swelling of neck lymph nodes may often only be an indication of an infection of a nearby organ or area. The swelling may subside a few weeks after the infection has been treated. In some people, swollen neck lymph nodes may be a sign of malignant cancer like lymphoma. The swelling is caused by cancer cells that have moved from their point of origin. Movement follows a step by step pattern so swollen neck lymph nodes may be a sign of cancer cells affecting an organ nearby.
Kind of Swelling
Your doctor is the best person to ask about your swollen lymph nodes. You may however, be able to determine on your own if a node is swollen due to infection or a more serious condition.
In a lot of cases, swelling due to infection may result in warm and tender nodes that may even result in the skin appearing red or pinkish. Some people however, may not feel any pain. After an infection, the swelling may not disappear immediately but the node is often small and doesn’t hurt.
Nodes that swell because of cancer are harder than swollen nodes due to infection. They will also seem like they are rooted in place. Instead of diminishing in size or maintaining a small size, they will not disappear at all and may even grow bigger.
What to Do
The first step you should take is to go to a doctor. If you have an infection, you may simply be prescribed an antibiotic. If your doctor suspects that your condition may be more serious, he may refer you to another expert. If your doctor suspects the possibility of cancer, your swollen neck lymph node may have to be biopsied.