Read below about swollen neck, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your swollen neck from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Swollen Neck

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced swollen neck. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.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.

    Good prognosis if caught early

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, loss of appetite, fever, shortness of breath, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  2. 2.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    RA is a chronic disease which requires lifelong control.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, joint pain, muscle aches, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Cellulitis

    Facial cellulitis is a skin infection that typically comes from other parts of the face like the mouth or the sinuses and needs antibiotic treatment. Symptoms can be pain, redness, warmth and swelling of the affected area.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    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
  4. 4.Acute Thyroiditis

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

    2 weeks - 2 months with treatment

    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

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  5. 5.Ludwig's Angina

    Ludwig angina is a bacterial infection of the floor of the mouth and occurs beneath the tongue.

    Recovery is dependent on severity of disease.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    shortness of breath, fever, being severely ill, trouble swallowing, neck pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  6. 6.Overactive Thyroid

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid glands control how fast one burns calories and how fast the heart beats. If the thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism.

    Great prognosis with high remission rates

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.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.

    Head and neck cancers span different types of cancer with variable prognosis so a consultation with an oncologist is required to determine outlook.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, hoarse voice, neck bump, ear canal pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Symptoms generally resolve within 3-4 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.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.

    Enlarged lymph nodes should go away within a week or two.

    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

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Neck

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

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our swollen neck symptom checker to find out more.

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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 had symptoms persist for:

    • 33% Less Than a Week
    • 25% Over a Month
    • 24% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced swollen neck were most often matched with:

    • 46% Retropharyngeal Abscess (Adult)
    • 30% Cellulitis
    • 23% Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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