What are swollen neck lymph nodes?

Swollen neck lymph nodes are enlarged lymph nodes in the neck area and under the chin. Lymph nodes are very small clusters of immune cells that function as part of the body’s immune system. There are more than 600 lymph nodes throughout the body, but the ones most frequently enlarged or swollen are the lymph nodes in the neck, under the chin, in the armpits, and in the groin. Swollen neck lymph nodes can occur in any age group or population, but generally occur most often in children.

Your body relies on the lymphatic system to fight off germs, infections, and abnormal substances such as cancer cells. Lymph nodes are an important part of your body’s immune system. Swollen neck lymph nodes can result from infection, malignancy and autoimmune disorders. Swollen neck lymph nodes are also known as lymphadenitis, lymphadenopathy, swollen nodes, or swollen glands.

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck can be a sign of an infectious disease, such as the common cold, mumps, rubella, strep throat, ear infection, or mononucleosis, as well as an infected wound. Swollen neck lymph nodes can also indicate certain types of cancer, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma or Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin lymphoma).

Swollen neck lymph nodes due to a viral infection often get better without treatment. However, some infections that are due to bacteria or other pathogens need medical attention. Seek prompt medical care if your lymph nodes have been swollen for more than two weeks, or are red, tender, hard , or irregular feeling, or if swelling is increasing.


What other symptoms might occur with swollen neck lymph nodes?

Swollen neck lymph nodes often occur with other symptoms that vary in severity depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Symptoms that may occur along with swollen neck lymph nodes

Swollen neck lymph nodes may occur with other symptoms including:


What causes swollen neck lymph nodes?

The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes in the neck is a viral infection such as the common cold. Bacterial infections that can cause swollen neck lymph nodes include an infected tooth and strep throat. Immune system disorders and some types of cancer can also lead to swollen neck lymph nodes.

Common infectious causes of swollen neck lymph nodes

The more common inf... Read more about swollen neck lymph nodescauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Popular Infections and Contagious Diseases Slide Shows