Swollen lymph nodes in neck?
April 6, 2020 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Okay I can't believe I'm asking a medical question but here we are. The lymph nodes below the jaw on either side of my neck feel big. Internet says they shouldn't be larger than a pea but they definitely are. They feel like they're both the same size. They don't feel tender. I noticed this last Tuesday. I have no other symptoms beside an off again on again headache. YANMD but: what is up here? I literally can't get this checked out right now because my doctor's office and urgent cares are closed.
posted by Automocar to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
This would happen to me if I had a severe acne break-out or a mouth sore or anything remotely inflamed around my face or neck. Maybe you can relate it to something like that?
posted by danapiper at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

This happens to many people quite frequently. It’s a very common sign of your body mounting an immune response, either to infection or to an allergen. Stress can also induce immune responses, and also affect the (re) emergence of cold sores etc as above.

You may have some viral or bacterial infection or you may have an allergic response, but for all those cases, unless/until symptoms progress, I’d simply try to stay extra hydrated, drink hot drinks, and apply hot and cold compresses to the area if they feel good. I’d pop some extra vitamin C and take some naps too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:43 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lymph nodes are part of your body's sewage system, so basically anything that needs to be disposed of can end up there. Colds, viruses, allergies, extra mucous, dead cells from any number of ailments, injuries, inflammations, etc. They get enlarged, they go down. bilateral things are not so worrisome. If they are not tender and not causing you distress it's probably best to keep an eye on them and see if they resolve before you tax the healthcare resources in your area.

I am a dentist, but not your dentist. I see and feel submandibular lymph nodes all the time. if something swells to the point where it disrupts your breathing, have it seen, but what you are describing sets off no alarms for me.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:44 AM on April 6, 2020 [15 favorites]

Nthing this, I get these all the time, 95% after a cold sore and/or just a cold.
posted by Melismata at 11:02 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay it's allergy season and I have seasonal allergies. I am less panicked now.
posted by Automocar at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2020 [6 favorites]

I have an autoimmune condition + seasonal allergies; mine are slightly enlarged and slightly tender almost 100% of the time.
posted by invincible summer at 11:09 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have a chronic illness (HIV) and I get the swollen lymph nodes consistently if something's taking hold. My doctors have almost always said to be aware of the other signs of infection/illness (generally fever and for me night sweats), and tenderness or if the swelling continues to get worse, and then go in for a checkup if you can.

You may want to look into if there's any sort of telemedicine option available with your health plan/urgent care. Doctors can tell you a lot through questioning and walking you through some basic self-exam steps as well.
posted by xingcat at 11:15 AM on April 6, 2020

I'm in my early 50s, and as I've gotten older there's usually a bit of enlargement on one side or the other. If both are enlarged, I usually have something I can point the blame at (sniffles, bad diet, sleep hygiene, etc.). It's when they get larger than, oh, a soybean, which coincides with actually feeling sick. IANAD!
posted by rhizome at 11:19 AM on April 6, 2020

Data point: my lymph nodes have always, always been the size of grapes (at least). My whole doctor-going life.
posted by cooker girl at 11:26 AM on April 6, 2020

Call the doctor; they should be monitoring their voicemail. Your lymph nodes are saying you have/had something; keep watch,but probably don't worry a lot.
posted by theora55 at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2020

One thing to keep in mind - if you start touching it all the time to see if it's still swollen, that's going to keep it swollen. So try to leave it alone and check back in a week or so (I know, it's hard).
posted by Ragged Richard at 5:08 PM on April 6, 2020

I used to have swollen lymph nodes in my neck, then I quit refined sugar and they went away.
posted by aniola at 9:05 AM on April 7, 2020

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