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Sore Neck Glands

Sore Neck Glands

Swollen or sore neck glands can be attributed to a range of ailments, right from something as simple as common cold, or sore throat, to something severe, such as tuberculosis, or mouth cancer.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Apr 13, 2018
Sore neck is a commonly occurring health condition typically characterized by intense pain in the neck, which increases with movement. An individual can experience soreness in the neck due to several reasons; prominent ones being sore muscles and sore glands around the neck. This can cause a great deal of discomfort and, at times, the person may even find it impossible to carry on with day-to-day activities, like swallowing and breathing.

When a person complains of soreness in neck glands, it usually points out to inflammation and swelling of lymph nodes (a.k.a. lymph glands) in the neck as a result of some underlying infection. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures, which house the white blood cells (WBCs). Approximately 500-600 lymph nodes are spread throughout the body, and connected to each other by lymphatic vessels. You might not even notice that they exist in your body, until they swell as a result of some infection.
Swollen Lymph Nodes - Lymphadenopathy
Lymph nodes in neck
Lymph nodes are seen here in the form of small lumps. Of the 500-600 lymph nodes found in the human body, around 30-40 percent are located in the neck and throat. It is relatively easy to feel swollen lymph nodes in the neck, not just because they are found in a cluster here, but also because they are located right beneath the skin.
When our immune system fights bacterial infection, the debris are drained into the lymph nodes located in various parts of the body via lymph channels. This causes the lymph nodes to swell and the person experiences inflammation and soreness in that particular part of the body. As far as swollen lymph nodes in the neck are concerned, they are often attributed to infectious ailments, like strep throat or sinusitis.
Sore Lymph Nodes in the Neck
While lymph nodes all over the body swell as a result of an infection, those in neck (i.e., the cervical lymph nodes) seem to be the most affected of the lot. That isn't really surprising, as lymph nodes exist in clusters in this part of the body and are found right beneath the skin. Like we said before, swelling of lymph nodes in neck can be caused due to a range of underlying conditions, right from common cold to some type of cancer. Of these, the most prominent causes are –

» Sore throat
» Sinus infection
» Ear infection
» Tuberculosis
» Tonsillitis and laryngitis
» Viral infections, like common cold and glandular fever
» Dental problems, such as abscessed or impacted tooth
» Rheumatoid arthritis
» Cancers such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, or nasopharyngeal cancer

Even though it is not a harmful condition in itself, swelling of neck glands can be a symptom of some serious ailment at times, and hence should not be ignored. Swelling caused as a result of throat infection or glandular fever disappears on its own within a few days after the infection is treated. On the other hand, swelling attributed to rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, etc., should be subjected to prompt medical attention. The same applies to bacterial infections, which can develop into blood poisoning if left unattended. Cancer can start at a particular site in the body and spread to the nearest lymph node, or it can start at the lymph node and spread to the other parts of the body.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If the swelling prevails for more than a week and/or if it is accompanied by fever, or trouble in swallowing, or breathing, then it is wise to consult the doctor and undergo proper diagnosis for the same. On the basis of preliminary diagnosis, the doctor will either prescribe antibiotics, or recommend further diagnosis. If the exact cause of this condition is not clear, the doctor may recommend some blood tests or an x-ray to determine it.

If the soreness in neck glands is caused due to some infectious disease, treating the underlying infection in itself would help you get rid of this soreness. It is possible to treat infectious ailments by administering antibiotics, but if the problem is severe, it may require the patient to be kept under observation for some time. If problems, like strep throat or skin infections are diagnosed, you will have to initiate prompt treatment to avoid further complications. You can also resort to heat and cold compress to ease the swelling of lymph nodes.
A Word of Caution
If the swelling persists for a week, or more, you should immediately consult a doctor. What you might dismiss as a minor infection can eventually turn out to be a life-threatening condition.
While it's impossible to avoid all the diseases associated with this condition, some preventive measures can ensure that the chances of suffering from these diseases are minimal. If proper medical attention is not provided soon after the ailment is diagnosed, the swelling may worsen and lead to complications that are difficult to treat.
Disclaimer: The HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.
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