Recent Blog Articles

Swollen Glands in the Neck

Swollen Glands in the Neck

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.

The approach to gland swelling in areas outside of the neck or in multiple areas of the body is different from the approach to swollen glands confined to the neck.

If you feel swollen lymph nodes in other areas of your body, please visit our Health Decision Guide called Swollen Glands (General).

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.