When you aren’t feeling well and go get checked out, one of the first things the doctor does is feel for a mass in your neck caused by swollen lymph nodes. This is because tender, swollen lymph nodes are a sign of illness.
There are numerous things that can cause a neck mass, and fortunately, most of the time the swelling is due to a minor viral infection, such as the common cold. When this is the case, an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory, fluids, and rest should do the trick. Other times, however, the swelling can be due to a bacterial infection in the mouth, head or neck. Strep throat, ear infections or an abscessed (infected) tooth can all cause enlarged lymph nodes. While painful, these conditions are easily treated with medication.
In rare cases, a neck mass can be a sign of a serious immune system disorder or cancer. As many as 90 percent of head and neck cancers can be attributed to exposure to risk factors such as use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Long-term exposure to the sun and human papilloma virus (HPV) are contributors as well.
Of course the best way to avoid falling prey to these illnesses is through preventative measures and regular check-ups, but if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should call Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat:
- fever over 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- swelling persists over 2 weeks
- hardened lump that won’t move when you press on it
- red skin over lump
- night sweats
- unexpected weight loss
- lump larger than 1 inch and/or growing
(If at any time, you are having difficulty breathing or swallowing, call 911 immediately.)
Luckily when detected early, most cancers of the head and neck can be cured without major side effects.
In the case of swollen lymph nodes, it is best to have them examined. So if you do find a neck mass, don’t panic, but do schedule an appointment to come into Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat and talk to one of our knowledgeable physicians. During your appointment, we will take the to time sit down with you, discuss your symptoms, and present a diagnosis and treatment options in language that will put you at ease. Whatever is causing your lymph nodes to swell, we can help. Call Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat at (888) 230-3715.