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Enlarged Lymph Nodes in the Neck

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Last updated November 29, 2021

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What are enlarged lymph nodes in the neck?

Lymph nodes are the glands in your body that contain the cells of the immune system. Enlarged lymph nodes occur when the nodes fill with inflammatory cells, usually as a response to a bacterial or viral infection. Swelling can be small—and not really noticeable—or they may be large enough for you to feel them.

Symptoms you may also have:

In rare cases, enlarged lymph nodes may be due to an autoimmune disease. Or the cause may be a mystery. Enlarged lymph nodes can also be a sign of cancer. But when it’s from cancer, the lymph nodes are usually not painful.

Treatment

Enlarged lymph nodes caused by infections go away on their own when the infection is gone or within a couple of weeks. To speed up the process, try applying a warm, wet compress to the affected area.

If the cause is cancer, the enlarged bump will not go away on its own. See your doctor about any enlarged lymph node that does not go away in several weeks.

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