Swollen Neck Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your swollen neck symptoms, including 9 causes & common questions.

Swollen Neck Symptom Checker

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Contents

  1. 9 Possible Swollen Neck Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  4. Statistics
  5. Related Articles

9 Possible Swollen Neck Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced swollen neck. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Retropharyngeal abscess (adult)

Retropharyngeal abscess is a collection of pus in the tissues in the back of the throat. It is a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: sore throat, loss of appetite, fever, shortness of breath, being severely ill

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by att...

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Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Acute thyroiditis

Acute thyroiditis is a rare inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by an infection, radiation, medication, or trauma.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: sore throat, fever, being severely ill, hoarse voice, pain in the front of the neck

Symptoms that always occur with acute thyroiditis: pain in the front of the neck

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Swollen Neck Symptom Checker

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Ludwig's angina

Ludwig's angina is a rare but serious infection of the space below the jaw and the floor of the mouth, under the tongue. This illness is not to be confused with "angina" which refers to cardiac pain due to coronary artery disease. The infection usually starts in the floor of the mouth th...

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Overactive thyroid

The thyroid is a small, bow-tie shaped gland in your neck. Its main job is to produce thyroid hormone (known as T3 or T4), which serves a wide array of functions throughout the body.

When too much thyroid hormone is released, the body’s metabolism gets ramped up, causing symptoms ...

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Head and neck cancer

There are five main types of head and neck cancer, which are all named according to the part of the body where they develop: laryngeal (voice box), nasal cavity and sinus, nasopharyngeal (air passage way behind the nose), oral (mouth), and salivary gland cancers. Most of these cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), meaning they begin in the flat (squamous) cells that make up the thin surface layer of the structures in the head and neck.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, hoarse voice, neck bump, ear canal pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Viral throat infection

A viral throat infection is an infection of the throat, or pharynx, that is caused by viruses. Viruses are different from bacteria such as Streptococcus pyogenes (which causes "strep throat"). Viral infections are the most common cause of sore throats in children and adu...

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Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

Enlarged lymph nodes occur when the node becomes larger as it fills with inflammatory cells. This often is a result of an infection but can occur without a known cause.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: neck bump, movable neck lump

Symptoms that always occur with enlarged lymph nodes in the neck: neck bump

Symptoms that never occur with enlarged lymph nodes in the neck: unintentional weight loss, fever, hard neck lump

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

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Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Neck

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • If you touch the swollen area, is there pain?
  • Do food or drinks get stuck when you swallow?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Are you drooling?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your swollen neck. These questions are also covered.

Swollen Neck Quiz

Swollen Neck Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced swollen neck have also experienced:

  • 5% Neck Bump
  • 4% Sore Throat
  • 4% Swollen Face

People who have experienced swollen neck were most often matched with:

  • 46% Retropharyngeal Abscess (Adult)
  • 30% Cellulitis
  • 23% Rheumatoid Arthritis

People who have experienced swollen neck had symptoms persist for:

  • 33% Less than a week
  • 25% Over a month
  • 24% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

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