What Causes Glands in Neck to Swell and Hurt?

Swelling and pain in the glands (lymph nodes)

Swelling and pain in the glands (lymph nodes) of the neck can be caused by various factors, and it’s often a sign that the body is responding to an infection or inflammation. Some common causes of swollen and painful neck glands include:

  • Infections: The most common cause of swollen neck glands is an infection. Viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold, flu, strep throat, or ear infections, can lead to the enlargement of lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Upper respiratory infections: Infections affecting the respiratory system, such as sinusitis or tonsillitis, can cause the lymph nodes in the neck to swell and become tender.
  • Dental infections: Infections in the teeth or gums can lead to swollen neck glands. Conditions like an abscessed tooth or gingivitis may cause this reaction.
  • Mononucleosis (mono): This viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus can lead to swollen and tender lymph nodes, especially in the neck.
  • Skin infections: Infections of the skin, such as cellulitis or folliculitis, can cause lymph nodes in the nearby area, including the neck, to swell.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Certain STIs, such as syphilis or HIV, can lead to swollen lymph nodes.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus can cause inflammation in the body, including the lymph nodes.
  • Cancers: In some cases, swollen neck glands may be a symptom of certain cancers, such as lymphoma or metastatic tumors.
  • Medications: Some medications, particularly those used to treat seizures or infections, may cause lymph nodes to swell as a side effect.
  • Immune system disorders: Disorders that affect the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases, may lead to swelling of lymph nodes.

If you experience persistent or severe swelling and pain in the glands of your neck, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. A thorough medical history, physical examination, and possibly additional tests (such as blood tests, imaging, or biopsy) may be needed to determine the underlying cause. Treatment will depend on the specific cause identified by your healthcare provider.

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