Most times when people notice something swollen in their neck they tend to freak out. That’s because it can be quite scary. Having something like the size of a pea quite prominent in your neck isn’t something to laugh about. But do you have to immediately assume you could be dying soon? Of course not. This pea-like structure in your neck is called lymph nodes. And swollen lymph nodes in the neck don’t necessarily imply serious health conditions.
The truth though is that so many people are quick to jump to conclusions. They assume that once lymph nodes are swollen cancer could be knocking on their door. Not saying this is not a possibility. It’s just that in most cases swollen lymph nodes in the neck could just be due to temporary infections. This is why after a while you would notice that your lymph nodes are no longer swollen. That’s because they’re done with what they’ve come to do. You will understand better the roles of lymph nodes as we go further.
Lymph nodes and lymph vessels belong to the immune system. The immune system helps fight the body against infections. Lymph nodes are bean-shaped structures. They help filter substances that pass through the lymphatic fluid. Lymph nodes are made up of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help fight against infections.
There are hundreds of lymph nodes located in the body. And they located in different parts of the body. Common locations of lymph nodes are groin, axilla, collar bone, under the jaw, behind the ear, the neck inclusive. They play very important roles at each location. This is why when a lymph node in an area is swollen it’s suspected that it’s that particular part that’s affected. Lymph nodes are connected to each other by lymphatic vessels.
So when you’re faced with infections and illnesses it’s expected that your lymph nodes would be enlarged. That’s because they help accumulate debris, bacteria and other dead cells. One thing though is that there are various causes of swollen lymph nodes. Let’s find out these reasons.
Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes
As mentioned earlier there are many causes of swollen lymph nodes. Some of the causes are very common while some aren’t. Some causes would just require you to wait while some would require you seek medical attention quickly. Let’s find out the causes of swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Infections: Infections are the common cause of swollen lymph nodes. Most times the infections are viral. Other common infections include common cold, sinus infections, flu, tonsillitis, skin infections and even fungal infections. It could also be as a result of some serious infections. These include tuberculosis, HIV, Lyme disease, toxoplasmosis and many more. So if you have any of these it’s a given that your lymph nodes would be enlarged.
- Immune system disorders: As mentioned earlier, lymph nodes are part of the immune system. So a disorder in the immune system would warrant swollen lymph nodes. Such cases are lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Cancers: Here is one cause that’s not so common. Swollen lymph nodes could actually be as a result of malignancy or cancer. Such cases include leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, and metastases. If this is the cause of swollen lymph nodes then immediate action is needed.
- Medications: Some medications can actually cause swollen lymph nodes. Especially if you’re allergic to that medication. Antimalarial and antiseizure drugs are actually capable of this.
How to Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes in Neck
There really not much you can do if your lymph nodes are swollen because of an infection. That’s because your lymph nodes would return to normal size once there’s no more infection. So now it’s not dependent on what you can do but how quick you get better. Well, the swelling may also reduce when you start taking antibiotics to treat the infection. Also, some doctors also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs if the tissue is also swelling.
If the cause of swollen lymph nodes in the neck is as a result of other health conditions then finding out the cause is the first step. Once you’re diagnosed then the doctor would be able to offer different treatment methods for different causes. In this case, the only way to reduce the swollen lymph nodes is treating the main cause.
Here are some home remedies that can help you out when you experience symptoms of swollen lymph nodes.
- Taking pain relievers could be of help. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be taken. Not to worry, they are over the counter drugs. But you must ensure that you take them in moderation.
- You can also apply a warm wet compress. This could also help out in reducing the swollen lymph nodes.
- Ensure that you take a lot of fluids. Taking a lot of water, fruit juices would sure go a long way. With the fruit juices, you are increasing the immunity of your body. That way your body would be able to fight against the infection a lot better. And in no time the lymph nodes would no longer be swollen.
Rest well. Rest is like the most important thing you can do at this time. Especially if the swollen lymph nodes are as a result of infection. Your body needs rest so that recovering would be a lot easier.
In normal cases, it takes about 2-3 weeks for the swelling to reduce. Once you’ve fully recovered from the infection then there shouldn’t be any more swollen lymph nodes. But if you notice that has persisted for a long period of time then you have to seek medical advice. It could be due to other medical conditions that you have to treat fast. So don’t make any delays and go find out the cause of the swollen lymph node in the neck.