The human body contains a large number of lymphatic glands, the purpose of which is to protect against various harmful agents (bacteria, viruses). Inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck can speak of both a common cold and a serious illness.
Lymphatic glands – location and purpose
Lymph nodes are part of the immune system, and their purpose is to neutralize pathogenic bacteria and viruses. When the number of harmful microorganisms increases greatly, the lymph nodes no longer cope with their function and become inflamed. Inflammation of the lymph nodes in medicine is called lymphadenitis.
Depending on the location on the neck, there are several types of lymph nodes, namely:
- anterior and posterior (sometimes superficial and deep);
- submandibular, submental;
You can see the location of the nodes in detail in the photo.
In the normal state, the lymph glands are not palpable, except for the superficial and submandibular lymph nodes, because they are located close to the skin. On palpation, they are soft, mobile and painless. The size of one knot is no more than 1 centimeter in diameter.
Symptoms of inflamed nodes in the neck
The main sign of lymphadenitis in the neck is an increase in the lymph nodes. In some cases, their size can reach the volume of walnut. Also, the lymph nodes in the neck hurt, especially when pressing or when turning your head to the right or left. On palpation, a change in the structure of the nodes is noticeable – they become more solid.
Lymphadenopathy and tenderness are the main symptoms of inflammation of these organs. There are also several additional signs of lymphadenitis. The intensity of their manifestation depends largely on the nature of the disease that provoked inflammation of these glands.
If your lymph nodes in the neck are inflamed, in addition to their increase and soreness, the following symptoms may occur:
- headaches, dizziness;
- temperature increase (sometimes up to 40 degrees);
- sore throat, pain when swallowing;
- general weakness, increased fatigue;
- pain in muscles, joints.
Why lymph nodes are inflamed on the neck
There are about a hundred diseases that can cause inflammation of the lymph glands. It can be both diseases of specific organs, and general systemic diseases.
Infectious diseases of the respiratory tract
This group of diseases is the most common cause of inflammation of the lymphatic glands located on the neck. Infectious diseases of the respiratory tract include:
- influenza (inflammation of the upper respiratory tract mucosa);
- angina (inflammation of the tonsils);
- rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucosa);
- sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses);
- laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx);
- tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea).
As a rule, the submandibular lymph glands become inflamed with respiratory tract infections. To determine that the cause of lymphadenitis was inflammation of the organs of the respiratory system, can be a number of additional symptoms:
- cough, redness and sore throat;
- runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of smell;
- severe muscle pain (characteristic of the flu);
- high fever, chills, fever.
Also refer to the common cause of inflammation of the lymph nodes (usually the anterior cervical and submaxillary).
This group of infections includes:
- gingivitis (inflammation of the gums);
- caries (destruction of dental tissue);
- stomatitis (inflammation of the oral mucosa, namely the inside of the cheeks, lips, palate);
- glossitis (inflammation of the tongue);
- periodontitis (inflammation of the tooth root).
A characteristic symptom for oral infections is bad breath.
Common infectious diseases
Lymphatic glands in the neck can become inflamed not only when the infection is localized in the organs located in close proximity to them. Together with lymph, pathogenic viruses or bacteria spread throughout the body, and an infection localized, for example, in the liver or lungs, can provoke inflammation of the nodes in the neck.
Common infectious diseases that are accompanied by lymphadenitis include:
- mumps (viral inflammation of the salivary, seminal and pancreatic ducts);
- measles (viral lesion of the skin, manifested by a rash);
- diphtheria (a bacterial disease in which a fibrous deposit in the form of a film forms in the throat and sometimes on the skin);
- AIDS (irreversible loss of immunity);
- mononucleosis (an infection in which atypical cells begin to be produced in the body, the site of localization of which are the lymph nodes, liver, spleen).
Autoimmune diseases are pathologies in which the body for unknown reasons perceives its cells as foreign and begins to fight against them. The symptoms characteristic of this group of diseases include lymphadenitis.
There are more than eighty types of autoimmune diseases. The most common are:
- lupus erythematosus (destruction of connective tissue that affects all organs and systems of the body);
- rheumatoid arthritis (joint damage);
- sarcoidosis (the formation of dense nodes in various organs, including lymphatic glands);
- Sjogren’s syndrome (chronic inflammation of the salivary and lacrimal glands, which, as it progresses, extends to the lymph nodes).
For this group of diseases, there are no characteristic common symptoms, and lymphadenitis is not a mandatory sign. Therefore, only a doctor can determine that autoimmune pathology has caused inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck.
The cause of inflammation of the lymphatic system can be malignant neoplasms. Nodes can grow as with a tumor in the lymphatic gland itself (lymphoma), and if there are neoplasms in other organs of the body (most often in the brain). As a rule, lymph nodes in cancer diseases are not painful and do not cause any discomfort.
Decreased immune function
When the barrier function is weakened, the lymph nodes begin to produce more protective cells, as a result of which they can increase in size. In this case, the lymphatic glands are not painful, but hard to touch. Permanently enlarged lymph nodes can be observed in people suffering from avitaminosis, chronic inflammation, general overworking of the body. Especially often weak immunity is the cause of the increase in lymph nodes in a child.
Allergy is an increased sensitivity of the immune system to allergen products. Upon contact with the allergen in the lymph nodes begin to produce specific cells aimed at neutralizing the allergen. Therefore, with prolonged allergies, the lymph nodes in the neck begin to inflame.
To determine that the cause of lymphadenitis was an allergy, can be the following symptoms:
- skin redness, itching, burning sensation;
- rash, blisters, vesicles;
- nausea, vomiting;
- cough, swelling of the throat.
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Causes of inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck of a child
The most common cause of inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck of a child, like in an adult, are various respiratory infections. The second most frequent factor that provokes children’s lymphadenitis is weak immunity. Very often, babies have inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck, causing abrasions, scratches, and open wounds. This happens because if the skin is damaged, an alien agent penetrates the body, and the immune system begins to fight with it, which is accompanied by an increase in the lymph glands.
Types of lymphadenitis and its treatment
Treatment of lymph nodes in the neck depends on the form of inflammation, which can be acute or chronic.
Acute cervical lymphadenitis
The characteristic signs of this disease are acute onset, severe pain and redness of the lymph glands. Since lymphadenitis is not an independent disease, but a symptom, it is necessary to treat not the lymph nodes, but the underlying disease. The only thing that can be done with sharply inflamed lymph glands is to provide first aid before the arrival of the doctor.
If you or your child have this condition, see the first aid measures:
- bed rest;
- exclusion of any physical activity;
- the use of large quantities of warm liquid (at least 2 liters for an adult, and 1 liter for a child);
- reception of fortified drinks (dogrose broth, chamomile infusion, tea with raspberries, lemon).
All other measures to treat the lymph nodes until the cause of their inflammation has been clarified can lead to a worsening of the patient’s well-being. The following actions are especially prohibited:
- heating of lymph nodes with hot-water bottles, compresses;
- the use of ointments, gels and other products that have a warming effect;
- massage of lymph nodes.
Chronic cervical lymphadenitis
In chronic inflammation, the lymph nodes increase, but the pain is negligible or completely absent. The most common cause of chronic lymphadenitis is a weakened immune system. Therefore, the treatment of lymphatic glands is aimed at strengthening the protective function of the body. The best choice for this are drugs based on components of plant origin (immunomodulators):
- tincture of echinacea;
- tincture of Rhodiola rosea;
- tincture of ginseng;
- tincture of lemongrass Chinese.
How to treat inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck of a child (video)
What to do if the lymph node around the neck of a child is inflamed – a question that interests many parents. Read more about the causes of childhood lymphadenitis and methods of its treatment described in this video: