Swollen Glands in the Neck

Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

Welcome to our Decision Guide on Swollen Glands in the Neck.

The term "swollen glands" usually refers to enlarged lymph nodes. In fact, lymph nodes are not actually glands. They are small bundles of white blood cells that are present in multiple areas throughout our body.

One of the ways the body's immune system responds to infections and inflammation is to greatly increase the number of white cells in the lymph nodes causing them to swell. Most often swollen lymph nodes are caused by an infection or some other benign condition. Less commonly, lymph nodes enlarge related to cancer.

The parts of the body where people and their doctors can see or feel swollen lymph nodes include the neck, armpit, and groin areas.

This guide will focus only on "swollen glands" in the neck. By answering a short series of questions, you will learn about the most common reasons for your swollen glands in the neck.

This guide is not intended to replace the evaluation and advice of a health care professional.

Are the "swollen glands" confined to your neck?

Yes, the glands are swollen only in my neck.

No, my glands are swollen beyond my neck.


Medical Reviewer: Faculty of Harvard Medical School Last Annual Review Date: 2006-08-23T00:00:00-06:00


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