Wintertime often brings sniffling, sneezing and those strange lumps that pop up in the neck area now and then. Most often, that lump is nothing more than a swollen lymph gland, a benign enlargement caused by a bacterial or viral infection such as strep throat. It’s nothing a round of antibiotics or a passage of time won’t heal.
But when a lump persists for more than two weeks, it’s a red flag that something far more serious could be going on. One possible cause for lumps in the neck is a dysfunction of the thyroid gland that’s curable with medications or surgery. But swelling in the lymph nodes also can be an early indication of some head, neck or throat cancers, particularly among smokers.
A network of lymph nodes spreads throughout the body, but those affected by head and neck cancers primarily are located down the side of the neck to just above the clavicle, under the chin line and behind the ears. Certain cancers, including Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, can begin in the lymph nodes. Other cancers begin elsewhere and can spread to the head, neck and other areas via the lymph system or blood stream.
Neck lumps can be very serious if they’re accompanied by:
- A growth on the tongue or mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ulcerated skin conditions
- An enlarged thyroid gland
- Bleeding in the nose, mouth, throat or lungs
- Persistent pain or earache
- Severe hoarseness or sore throat
- A change in the sound of your voice
- Bluish-black spots on the head or neck
If you’re concerned about neck lumps, you need to see an otolaryngologist. St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat’s Dr. Kalpana DePasquale can determine whether it’s a benign symptom of a viral or bacterial infection, or something more urgent. Call 904-461-6060 to schedule an appointment today.