Causes and Symptoms of Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Neck
Causes and Symptoms of Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Neck

Lymph nodes are a part of the lymphatic system, one of the components of the immune system of the body. Usually, swollen lymph nodes occur as the result of exposure to viruses or bacteria and indicate an infection. According to various medical research reports, the swollen lymph node in the neck is the most common along with swollen lymph nodes in other places like under the chin, in the groin and in the armpits.

Usually, these lymph nodes are not visible. When these get enlarged, only then the lymph nodes become visible in the certain body areas. Especially, in the neck, behind the ear or in the groin, you may notice these as the enlarged bumps. Also, one can feel the enlarged lymph nodes by moving the hand slowly around the area that has become swollen. One can feel whether the lymph nodes are tender or not as well.

Well, in order to treat the swollen lymph node in neck, diagnosing the underlying cause properly is important. With proper treatment, swollen lymph gets better. Various medications are available to deal with the infection, swelling, and pain caused by it. However, it is advisable to take any medication only under the guidance of a medical expert. Here is a list of the possible causes and symptoms of swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Causes of a swollen lymph node in the neck
Sometimes, the swollen lymph nodes are referred to as the swollen glands.

Viral infections
One of the most common causes of these swollen lymph nodes is a viral infection. Usually, a viral upper respiratory infection like common cold is the most common cause. Here is a list of the viruses that can cause the swollen glands:

  • Chickenpox
  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • HIV
  • Measles
  • Adenovirus
  • Common cold viruses
  • Herpes

Not only the viruses mentioned above, but also many fungi, parasites, and bacteria cause swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck.


  • Leishmaniasis
  • Toxoplasmosis


  • Histoplasmosis
  • Coccidiomycosis


  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis along with many other sexually transmitted diseases.

Other health conditions that cause swelling of the lymph nodes

  • Cancer
    Cancers that cause swelling of the lymph node in the neck may originate from the blood cells or lymph nodes like lymphomas along with some types of leukemia. The breast cancer can spread to the axilla, the nearest lymph nodes to the breasts, in the underarm, or the lung cancer can spread to the lymph nodes in the collarbone.
  • Inflammation
    The immunologic and inflammatory causes of the swollen lymph nodes may include diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis along with sensitivities to some medications.
  • Other health conditions
    Other than all the common causes, transplant graft rejections, genetic lipid storage diseases, and sarcoidosis are some of the less common causes of swollen lymph nodes. Having lymph node swelling does not always mean that the affected person might have any underlying disease. However, for the right diagnosis, seeking medical attention is necessary.

Symptoms of the swollen lymph node in the neck

  • The symptoms may vary depending on the cause of the lymph node enlargement along with the location of the swollen lymph nodes.
  • A sore throat, runny nose, and fever are symptoms of the upper respiratory infection. These symptoms may occur in case of swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Also, the affected persons may experience a bit painful nodes or slightly tender nodes beneath the skin on the upper part of the neck, under the chin, around the ears, and under the jaw. It may hurt a bit while making certain movements, or while chewing food.
  • Another common symptom of having swollen lymph nodes is redness on the skin or skin infection along with streaking of the skin.
  • If the lymph nodes in the groin are swelling, it may cause pain while bending or walking.
  • Other symptoms of lymph node swelling include fatigue, coughing, sweating, fever, and chills.

If one notices any of the above-mentioned symptoms, one should consult a healthcare professional immediately. Experiencing lymph nodes that are swollen but not tender might be a sign of a serious health problem like cancer.

To treat the swollen lymph node in the neck that is usually caused by infections, various antiviral or antibiotic medications can be taken. To deal with the inflammation and pain, different medications are available. However, it is always advisable to seek a medical expert’s guidance before taking any medication as these medications might have many side effects. A doctor can lay down the best treatment option depending on the condition of the swollen lymph nodes.

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