Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck: causes, symptoms, treatment
An enlarged lymph node in the neck in most cases occurs as a result of contact with viruses or bacteria. Very rarely, it can be caused by a malignant tumor. An increase in cervical lymph nodes may also be associated with inflammation, known as lymphadenitis.
Lymph nodes play an important role in the body's ability to fight harmful microorganisms and other causes of diseases. These are small clusters of cells called lymphocytes, covered with connective tissue. Lymphocytes produce proteins that capture particles of viruses and bacteria and destroy them. When the infection enters the body, there is an increase in the lymph nodes in the neck. This is often the case with a viral infection, such as the common cold, but it can also be caused by bacterial and parasitic infections. The most common ones are:
- acute pharyngitis;
- ear infections;
- tooth abscess;
In addition, an enlarged lymph node in the neck can occur due to disorders of the immune system and related diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, certain types of cancer (lymphoma, leukemia). In rare cases, the swelling of the nodes can be caused by certain drugs, namely anticonvulsants and prophylactic agents for malaria.
When the lymph nodes swell, you can notice painful sensations in the neck and grope, which are comparable in size to a pea or bean. Depending on the reason for the increase in nodes, other symptoms may occur, including:
- sore throat, runny nose, and other signs of respiratory tract infection;
- swelling of the lymph nodes not only on the neck, but also in other areas of the body;
- temperature increase;
- excessive sweating.
If an enlarged lymph node in the neck is not treated, complications can develop, namely pus accumulation, or sepsis. Therefore, for painful symptoms should make an appointment with a specialist.
Swelling of the lymph nodes can be seen with direct physical examination.To determine the cause of this condition, the doctor may prescribe a blood test to confirm or exclude the alleged underlying disease. An x-ray or tomography of the neck can help identify potential sources of infection. If a specialist cannot make a diagnosis, a biopsy can be applied, consisting in extracting a tissue sample from the lymph node for microscopic examination.
An enlarged lymph node in the neck is caused by bacteria and viruses, so a victory over the infection is the solution. The most common method of treatment is antibiotics. If the problem is caused by other causes, the main disease should be treated. At home, the symptoms of lymph node enlargement and soreness can be alleviated by applying warm compresses to the neck and taking painkillers.