Enlarged cervical lymph nodes

Enlarged lymph nodes on the neck can be caused by various diseases.

An enlargement of the lymph nodes is called lymphadenopathy.

In some areas of the neck, the lymph nodes are divided according to their anatomical region, for example:

  • on the chin (submental),
  • on the lower jaw (submandibular),
  • above the clavicle (supraclavicular),
  • in the neck (cervical).

The increase in size of the lymph nodes in the cervical region is an example of local lymphadenopathy.
Swollen lymph nodes can occur simultaneously in different regions of the body, for example:

  • in the groin,
  • under the armpit,
  • on the neck.

In this case, this is called generalized lymphadenopathy.


Signs and symptoms of swollen cervical lymph nodes

Swollen cervical lymph nodes are a symptom and can occur together with:

  • neck pain,
  • Numbness in this area.
  • There may be changes in the overlying skin (redness, ulceration, etc.). The overlying skin can be displacement or non-displacement from the lymph nodes.
  • The enlarged lymph nodes can be of different consistency according to the underlying disease (for example, soft, rubbery, rough, etc.).
  • There may be other symptoms associated with it, but they are not limited to the affected area.
  • Symptoms are very different and depend on the exact cause of the disease, which is responsible for the enlargement of the cervical lymph nodes.

Causes of enlarged cervical lymph nodes

Lymph node enlargement is usually caused by an infection or a malignant mass (tumor) in the body.
Rarely, lymph node enlargement is the result of a systemic immune disease, such as:

Infections – Various common infections in the neck area and head can cause cervical lymph node enlargement, for example:

  • Cold
  • Sore throat
  • Gingivitis
  • Ear infection (otitis)
  • Influenza
  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • pharyngitis)
  • Tonsillitis (tonsillitis)
  • Laryngeal inflammation
  • Inflammation of the parotid gland (parotitis)

Tumors – Various cancers can cause lymph node enlargement on the neck.

  • Tumors originating from lymphoid tissue can provoke lymphadenopathy localized on the neck, such as lymphoma:
    • Hodgkin
    • Non-Hodgkin)
  • Leukemia (“blood cancer”) can also cause constant lymph node enlargement.
  • Almost all cancers, when they spread (metastases), can cause organ enlargement in the lymphatic system.
  • Tumors in the neck area and on the head can lead to lymph node enlargement in the neck region, for example:
  • Lymph nodes above the collarbone (nodi lymphatici supraclaviculares) often swell due to neoplasia; therefore, in this case, a thorough examination must be carried out to exclude a malignant mass in the chest or abdominal area.
  • In the case of cancer, surgical intervention is now performed to remove malignant tissue and sentinel lymph nodes in which cancer cells have arrived. Previously, all lymph nodes of the affected region were removed.

Mononucleosis – It is a common viral disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
This usually affects young people. The disease is associated with a feeling of weakness and fatigue for weeks or even months.
It is also known as a “kissing disease” because it spreads through the exchange of:

  • Saliva
  • Mucus.

Symptoms include:

  • high fever,
  • sore throat,
  • Weakness
  • Enlargement of the cervical lymph nodes.

Sometimes the spleen can also enlarge, which then causes abdominal pain.
Therapy consists of;

  • lots of peace and quiet,
  • taking painkillers,
  • antibiotics (used to treat pharyngitis),
  • Gargling with salt water.

Contact sports and weightlifting must be avoided in order to protect the spleen, which can rupture in the case of mononucleosis.

Other causes
of cervical lymph node enlargement may also be caused by:

  1. Cold
  2. Skin infection
  3. Ear infection (otitis)
  4. Upper respiratory tract infection
  5. AIDS
  6. Herpes
  7. Tuberculosis
  8. Side effects of some pharmaceuticals or vaccines

Swelling on the neck can also be an indication of:

The salivary glands are located in the upper part of the neck, just below the jaw and in front of the ear.
The thyroid gland is located in the lowest part of the neck, near the Adam’s apple.

Swollen cervical lymph nodes on the right or left side

The lymph nodes of the head and neck are located in the anterior and posterior neck area.

They are ignited as a result of attacks by:

  • Bacterial
  • Viruses
  • other pathogenic microbes.

Lymph node enlargement on the right or left side of the neck is in most cases caused by:

  • pathogenic infections,
  • Inflammatory diseases.

The epithelium is a thin plate at the base of the tongue. This structure can become inflamed due to respiratory infection.
If a skin injury in the neck area is not treated, it can become infected.
This can lead to an enlargement of the surrounding lymph nodes.
Causes include:

Do reactively enlarged lymph nodes mean cancer?

When lymph nodes are described as “reactive,” it usually means that the lymph node or a group of lymph nodes is enlarged.
In most cases, this anomaly is caused by a benign condition, such as:

  • Irritation
  • Infection
  • Inflammation

Symptoms of diseases that cause
enlarged cervical lymph nodes

Chronic nonspecific lymphadenitis does not provoke any symptoms in addition to the enlarged lymph nodes.
In addition, if one of these symptoms occurs, the patient could have an infection (more likely cause) or a tumor.
These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious diseases.
Possible symptoms:

  1. Enlarged, painful or coarse lymph nodes/lymph glands
  2. Skin over the lymph nodes reddened and overheated when touched (this means that inflammation is present)
  3. Fever
  4. Ague
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Excessive sweating
  7. General weakness
  8. Swallowing
  9. difficulty breathing (may indicate inflammation of the bronchi, throat, etc.)
  10. Neck stiffness

Diagnosis and examination of enlarged cervical lymph nodes

  • The doctor asks the patient about the symptoms and medical history.
  • This is followed by a physical examination to determine whether the palpable lymph nodes are slightly or greatly enlarged.
  • The superficial lymph nodes can be palpated and are often visible, but instrumental examinations may be necessary to make a diagnosis.
  • Diagnostic examinations include:
    • Comprehensive blood count
    • Blood
    • Echography
    • X-ray of the chest
    • Lymph node biopsy

When to worry? When are enlarged cervical lymph nodes dangerous?

  • Swelling that persists
    for more than 2-4 weeks Permanent enlargements that persist for more than four weeks may indicate a serious illness, even if the cause is usually benign.
  • Swollen lymph nodes throughout the body
  • Hard, large, painless and stuck Lymph node
  • The body region of the enlarged lymph glands is important for determining a possible cause.
    Supraclavicular lymph node enlargement must be immediately examined by a doctor to exclude a malignant tumor.

Treatment of swollen cervical lymph nodes

Therapy depends on the cause of the disease.

Infections – Usually, an enlargement of the lymph nodes is caused by an infection.

  • As a rule, enlarged lymph nodes hurt. Then you can make hot envelopes.
  • The doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen).
  • If a bacterial infection is suspected, antibiotics are indicated.
  • If an abscess formation in the lymph node is suspected, surgical drainage can help.

Tumors – The treatment options for lymph node enlargement in the cervical region caused by a tumor are:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy

Treatment is determined due to:

  • Kind
  • Seat
  • Spread of carcinoma.

Usually, a cancer that led to lymph node enlargement is already at an advanced stage (except tumors of the lymphatic system such as lymphoma, which originates from the lymphoid tissue itself).

Enlarged cervical lymph nodes in children

Cervical lymph nodes (lymph nodes on the neck) are often caused by respiratory infections that occur in childhood.
One of the most common causes of lymph node swelling in children and infants is tonsillitis.

Return to school
Enlarged lymph nodes are not contagious.
If the lymph node enlargement is related to a cold, sore throat or other infections, the child can return to school as soon as:

  • the fever has passed,
  • the child feels good enough to participate in normal activities again.

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