What is neck swelling, and what does it mean?

An enlargement in the neck area characterizes neck swelling and can occur for various reasons, including infections, inflammation, or structural abnormalities. Understanding the root cause of neck swelling is crucial to formulating the most effective treatment plan.

What causes neck swelling?

Several factors can contribute to neck swelling. These include lymphadenopathy, which is an enlargement of the lymph nodes, typically resulting from infections or immune system responses. Thyroid disorders like goiter or thyroid nodules can also induce swelling in the neck. Bacterial or viral infections such as strep throat, mononucleosis, or tuberculosis can also lead to neck swelling. Complications in the salivary glands or inflammatory conditions like sarcoidosis or granulomatosis may also result in neck swelling.

What are the symptoms of neck swelling?

Neck swelling can present itself in several ways, and the symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause. Here are some of the common symptoms you might encounter:

  • Visible enlargement or lumps: One of the most noticeable signs of neck swelling is a visible enlargement or lump in the neck area. This can range from a small, barely noticeable bump to a large mass. The size of the swelling doesn't necessarily indicate the severity of the condition.
  • Pain or tenderness: Neck swelling can often be accompanied by pain or tenderness in the affected area. This might be a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing pain depending on the cause. The discomfort could also intensify while moving the neck or swallowing.
  • Difficulty swallowing: Known as dysphagia, difficulty swallowing is a common symptom of neck swelling. This occurs when the swelling interferes with the normal function of the esophagus. It might feel as if food is stuck in your throat or chest.
  • Changes in voice: In some cases, neck swelling can affect the voice box (larynx), leading to hoarseness or changes in your voice.
  • Systemic symptoms: If the neck swelling is due to an infection, you might also experience systemic symptoms that affect your whole body. These can include fever, chills, fatigue, or a general feeling of being unwell.
  • Skin changes: Depending on the cause, the skin over the swollen area might become red, warm, or show other signs of inflammation.
  • Breathing difficulties: In severe cases, if the swelling is large enough to obstruct the airway, it can lead to breathing difficulties. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
Background media

How to manage neck swelling

The management of neck swelling depends on its root cause. For lymphadenopathy, treatment addresses the underlying infection or medical condition with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications.

  • Thyroid conditions may require medication, dietary adjustments, or surgery.  
  • For salivary gland complications, sialagogues (medications that stimulate salivary flow) or surgical interventions may be recommended. 
  • Infections are typically treated with antibiotics or antiviral medications.
  • Inflammatory conditions are usually managed through medication and might require consultation with specialists.

When should you seek professional help for neck swelling?

If you experience severe, persistent neck swelling or if other troubling symptoms accompany it, a consultation with a specialist is essential. For unexplained neck swelling lasting more than a few weeks, painful or tender neck swelling, difficulty swallowing or breathing due to swelling, and associated symptoms like fever, weight loss, or fatigue.

Background media

Why trust Louisiana ENT Specialists for your neck swelling care?

Choosing Louisiana ENT Specialists for managing neck swelling means entrusting your care to a dedicated ENT specialist renowned for delivering high-quality medical and surgical care. With over 45 years in service and a network of over 25 physicians and specialists spanning six locations in Louisiana, Louisiana ENT Specialists upholds a patient-first philosophy.

We invest time in understanding your unique needs and delivering personalized care to ensure optimal well-being. Don't let neck swelling go unaddressed. Contact Louisiana ENT Specialists today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards relief from neck swelling-related issues. Our team is committed to helping you understand and manage your condition for a healthier future.

With 6 convenient locations around the Louisiana area, we're never far away.

Find Your ENT Request Appointment
Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at (225) 769-2222.

We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customer ability to make phone calls to our facilities. If you are unable to reach us, please use this phone number 786-348-2775. We are in touch with AT&T to resolve this issue.

You can request an appointment HERE.