Swollen Glands in the Neck: Characteristics, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Duration of the Infection

Lymph nodes are small round-shaped glands that are the size of a cooked pea or bean.

The body contains more than 500 lymph nodes. Lymph nodes help prevent the spread of infection and protect the bloodstream from viral and bacterial invasion .

Normal nodes are largest at the age of 10 to 12 years. At this age, they can be twice the normal size of an adult. The easiest to feel is in the neck or groin.

Characteristics and causes of swollen glands

Lymph nodes swell when fighting an infection. The nodules infected by a virus are generally 1/2 to 1 inch wide.

This slight enlargement means that the lymph node fights the infection and is successful. Bacteria-infected nodules are generally more than 1 inch wide and very tender.

If they are more than 2 inches wide or the overlying skin is pink, the nodes do not control the infection successfully and may contain pus.

Cuts, scrapes, scratches, splinters, burns, insect bites, rashes, impetigo, and any break in the skin will cause the lymph glands to grow. Try to locate and identify the cause of a swollen gland.

If the nodes in the groin are swollen, look for an injury to the legs and lower abdomen. If the nodes in the armpits are swollen, examine the arms and upper chest.

The swelling of the posterior nodes suggests irritation of the scalp. The frontal neck nodules drain the lower face, nose, and throat, so injury or infection in these areas can cause the nodes to swell.

Most enlarged nodes in the neck are due to colds or throat infections. The swollen and tender node under the jaw and can be caused by tooth decay and abscess. A disease like chickenpox can cause all the nodes to swell.


  • The node swells to 2 or more inches wide.
  • The covering skin turns red.
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • He begins to act very sick.
  • You develop a sore throat.
  • The fever persists for more than 3 days.

Lymph nodes filter harmful organisms and abnormal cells before lymph reaches the bloodstream. Lymph nodes can only be felt in certain areas:

  • Head and neck.
  • Brazos.
  • Armpit.
  • Inguinal (groin) area.
  • Back of the knees.


In general, no treatment is necessary for swollen glands associated with viral infections (for example, colds).

For bacterial infections, the disease that is causing the node to react must be treated. For example, remove the splinter, treat strep infection, treat ingrown toenail, or have a dentist treat abscessed tooth.

Many people with swollen lymph nodes due to a skin infection also need an oral antibiotic. Pain or fever relief For pain or fever over 102 ° F, give the appropriate dose of:

  • Acetaminofeno (Tylenol).
  • Ibuprofeno (Advil).

Do not squeeze the nodes. Pushing and squeezing the lymph nodes can prevent them from returning to normal size.

Remember that it may take a month for the nodes to return to normal. They will not disappear completely. It is not necessary to check them more than once a month. If your child becomes nervous around them, discourage him if he is old enough to cooperate.

Duration of infection

Viral infections and minor skin infections and irritations can cause lymph nodes to quickly double in size over 2 to 3 days. They slowly return to normal size over the next 2 to 4 weeks.

However, they will not disappear completely. You can always see and feel nodules in most normal, healthy children, especially in the neck and groin.

Lymph nodes are often too small to feel, except in thin people, when they can feel like pea-sized lumps in the groin.

Another common exception is when people get a sore throat or ear infection, which can make the lymph nodes in the neck become enlarged, painful, and tender.

Lymph nodes can also become enlarged if cancer cells lodge in them. In this case, they are generally painless.