Lymphatic system is an important part of the body's immune system. The system consists of lymph nodes which are also known as lymph glands. These lymph glands can be felt with the fingers at some places like armpits, groin, under the jaw, neck, etc. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs located in groups, mostly in the neck, armpit, collarbone and groin, which play a major role in the normal functioning of the immune system. Lymph glands are responsible for the production of antibodies and macrophages that fight infectious particles and harmful foreign bodies. Swelling in the glands in the throat is common in adults as well as in children.
Causes of Swollen Lymph Glands under Jaw
- Most Common Infections: 'Common cold' and 'strep throat' or 'streptococcal infection of the throat' can lead to swelling in the glands that are situated near the jaw.
- Other Common Infections: Commonly occurring infections that can cause swelling in the lymph glands under the jaw are tooth abscess, mouth sores, impacted tooth, mumps, ear infection, measles, rubella, skin infections, chickenpox, glandular fever, infected wound of the jaw, tonsillitis, laryngitis, gingivitis (periodontal diseases) and pharyngitis, etc.
- Uncommon Infections: Glands in the neck can swell due to a scratch or bite from a cat or dog, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by parasites transmitted from infected cats, or consumption of undercooked meat, etc.
- Immune System Disorders: Rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, AIDS, lupus affecting lungs, heart, kidneys, skin, joints, etc., leukemia, lymphoma (cancer of lymph tissue) or various other types of cancers can lead to swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Side Effects: Sore throat and swollen glands under jaw can be experienced as a result of side effects of some medicines like phenytoin (prescribed for seizures); or side effects of immunization against malaria, typhoid; or symptoms of some diseases like sarcoidosis, Kawasaki disease and diseases of glycogen storage.
- Goiter: Thyroid problem like goiter, that occurs because of iodine deficiency, can cause swelling of the thyroid gland in the throat. Swelling being quite apparent, the condition can be easily diagnosed.
- Other Causes: Causes of swollen lymph nodes include hyperthyroidism, metabolic diseases or allergies, tumor or infection in the mouth, head or neck, salivary gland problems, a cyst or cystic lesions (large pimples), occurring deep under the skin, a sebaceous cyst, lipoma (smooth, rubbery, fibrous capsule made of fat cells or lump that is easily movable under the skin), etc.
- Prescribed Medicines: Doctors may prescribe appropriate medications including antibiotics to get rid of the pain and swelling in the glands under jaw, after analyzing the underlying causes. A minor viral infection may cure on its own within a couple of days.
- Iodine Intake for Thyroid: Proper medication is required to treat thyroid gland inflammation. Supply of sufficient amount of iodine helps control the situation called goiter.
- Gargling: Gargling with warm salty water can reduce the swelling of the glands if it is due to tooth abscess.
- Ginger Tea: A herbal tea like ginger tea can relieve the pain and discomfort experienced due to swollen glands.
- Applying Heat: Cover your throat with a wet washcloth, soaked in warm water. Lie down and keep a hot water bag against the swollen part. This can help relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation.
- Painkillers: Over-the-counter pain medications can be taken.
Most of the time, swelling in the lymph glands under jaw goes away on its own. However, the glands may take about two weeks to heal completely, depending upon the cause and severity of the condition. The treatment may vary according to the cause. Your doctor may order a blood test, liver/kidney function test, chest X-ray, if necessary. If he suspects something serious, he may perform lymph node biopsy. Remember, if the swelling is persistent, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort, you should immediately consult a physician, so as to get the condition diagnosed and treated promptly. This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.