Lymph nodes (also known as lymph glands) are tiny clusters of cells, and are an important part of the lymphatic system. And this system is one of the vital parts of the immune system of the body. Lymph nodes contain lymphocytes and macrophages. Now, the lymphocytes are responsible for producing proteins that are trained to trap foreign particles that enter the body; such as bacteria and viruses. And macrophages do the work of destructing these captured particles. It is to be known that most of the lymph nodes of the body are located in the neck and head region. And this is why swollen lymph nodes in these regions are common in most people.
Early symptoms of swollen lymph nodes in neck in children and adults include tender and painful lymph nodes. These nodes may grow to the size of a pea or kidney bean. Tenderness may be felt under the chin, around the ears, or upper portion of the neck.
Although, there are less instances when swollen or sore lymph nodes in neck are caused by cancer, there are some cases, wherein rapid growth of the nodes may indicate a developing tumor. Depending upon the causes, there could be come more symptoms which may include sore throat, fever, night sweats, runny nose and other problems of upper respiratory infection.
What Causes Lymph Nodes To Swell?
Causes of swollen lymph nodes could be many. If we speak about the most common cause of infection, then it is a viral one; common cold being one popular example. Apart from this, other possible causes (that include infections and disorders) are :
- Disease of the gum
- Ear infection
- Infection of the skin
- Larynx cancer
- Medications for malaria
- Mouth cancer
- Oral cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sebaceous cysts
- Side effects of anti-seizure medication
- Sinus infection
- Tooth infection
The condition of swollen glands in neck is a condition which may turn ugly, if ignored. The treatment, as with many other medical conditions, depends upon the cause. If viral infection is the cause, then there is nothing much to worry about. Once the virus runs its course, the condition will resolve on its own.
If the condition of swollen lymph nodes in children or adults is caused by a bacterial infection, then antibiotics are used. Along with these medications, patients may also be prescribed with OTC drugs that may help in reducing fever and pain. With children, parents must exercise caution before using any kind of medication. And that is why, it is advisable to consult a pediatrician.
For instance, if the condition of swollen lymph nodes has cancer as its cause (which is not common though), then the treatment may involve surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
Applying warmth to the affected area may provide some relief from the pain. For this, one can dip a clean washcloth in hot water, squeeze out the excess water and place it on the painful area. Rest is also important, as it gives the body some time to heal itself and recover from the disease.