Swollen Lymph Nodes: Normal, infection or malignancy?

Dr. Greene, our 7 month old daughter Elise has had swollen lymph glands in the back of her neck and head for about 3 months. They said that she could be getting over an infection (she has only been sick once and that was last week). Well, they have not gotten any smaller, and her hemoglobin was 11.3. The doctors think it is nothing. Correct me if I am wrong, but this sounds much more serious.

She is in the 95th percentile for length, but 50th percentile for weight. She has a humongous appetite, but is very thin. She is active and has been pulling herself up and standing alone along furniture since she was 6 months old. She has always been a happy, healthy baby.

I have looked up these conditions on the net (anemia, swollen glands) and found them similar to those of lymphocytic leukemia. What type of tests need to be run on her to rule this out? Also what other problems could these symptoms indicate?

After losing my mother to cancer at a very young age due to initial misdiagnosis, I do not want to take any chances with my beautiful little girl. When my mother went in with pain in her liver area, they didn’t even think of cancer. They sent her home with pain pills only to find a few months later it was cancer. By then it was too late. That is also why I am so worried. Please give me all the information you can.
Shelley Haukoos – Industrial Lab Tech – Hibbing, Minnesota

Lymph Nodes

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Almost every day, Shelley, concerned parents ask me about lumps in their children’s necks or scalps. Most of the time, these turn out to be normal. Occasionally, though, they are an early sign of a serious infection or malignancy. No wonder, then, lymph nodes are such a cause of concern — particularly for those who have had a previous experience with cancer. All of us have hundreds of lymph nodes scattered throughout our bodies as a critical part of our immune systems. This network of nodes functions as a powerful, intelligent filtration system to keep the insides of our bodies clean and healthy.

Tiny vessels called lymph vessels carry germs, foreign particles, and unhealthy or malignant cells to the lymph nodes, where they are trapped. Active lymph nodes enlarge as they attempt to destroy the unwelcome material.

The lymph nodes also function as schools. Lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, study the foreign material so that they can produce antibodies, killer cells, and other substances to protect the body from the threat.

Sometimes the lymph nodes are overwhelmed in the process. Our defenders can be taken over by a cancer or an infection. These enlarged nodes can become a refuge where the invaders can hide and proliferate.

In a newborn infant, the lymph nodes are often small enough and soft enough not to be felt. But by the time a baby is several months old, healthy, growing, learning lymph nodes are frequently obvious enough to be noticed by parents — to their alarm.

When evaluating enlarged lymph nodes the first consideration is whether these nodes are localized (in one or two adjacent regions of the body) or generalized (spread throughout the body, often including the spleen — the largest lymph node — which is found just under the rib cage in the left upper part of the abdomen). Generalized enlarged lymph nodes suggest that the body is responding to a whole-body problem, such as an infection (bacterial, viral, or fungal), an autoimmune disease (arthritis or lupus), a drug reaction, or a malignancy such as leukemia. The infection might be very mild, or might be as serious as HIV.

Localized enlarged lymph nodes are responding to events in the part of the body filtered by those nodes. A scratch on the finger can produce swollen nodes at the elbow and /or the armpit. Minor trauma to the foot is filtered by nodes behind the knee and in the groin.

The localized nodes most often noticed by parents are those around the head (especially near the base of the skull) and neck. They frequently grow in response either to the mouth organisms that enter the body during teething, or to the tiny particles that get into the scalp from a baby’s lying down most of the day, or to respiratory infections of all kinds (ear infections, colds, sinus infections, etc.) — or, to some combination of these.

Much less commonly, head and neck nodes can grow from cat-scratch-fever, tuberculosis, drinking unpasteurized milk (mycobacterial infections), or eating undercooked meat (toxoplasmosis). They can also grow from an isolated malignancy, such as a lymphoma.

Many people have a sunny attitude toward “swollen glands,” not believing they will really be serious. Others believe these lumps to be harbingers of doom. The truth is somewhere in between. Most of these situations turn out to be fine, but enlarged lymph nodes should be respected.

When should you be concerned?

When examining your child, your physician will pay attention to several important signs:

  • Location — enlarged lymph nodes just above the collar bone but below the neck often indicate serious disease.
  • Character — nodes that are hard, non-tender, and irregular are very suspicious. Normal nodes are mobile beneath the skin. Fixed nodes, those that are firmly attached either to the skin or to deeper tissues, are often malignant. Nodes that are tender, inflamed, or rubbery in consistency usually represent an infection.
  • Growth — enlarged nodes that continue to enlarge rapidly should be evaluated rapidly.
  • Associated symptoms — fever, night sweats, or weight loss accompanying enlarged lymph nodes should be investigated thoroughly.
  • Size — size does matter! The definition of an enlarged lymph node is size larger than one centimeter (0.4 inch) in diameter. Pea-size lymph nodes are not enlarged, even if you didn’t feel them there before. Any node that is larger than 1cm in diameter should be followed closely by a physician. It should shrink noticeably within 4-6 weeks, and should be less than one centimeter within 8-12 weeks. High-risk enlarged nodes are those larger than 3cm (more than an inch) in diameter.

If lymph nodes remain truly enlarged for more than 2 weeks, or if other worrisome signs are present, then the next steps of evaluation include a complete blood count with a manual differential (CBCd)l. This test looks at the number and type of cells in the blood. Isolated anemia is not usually a problem, but anemia with an unusual white blood cell count or platelet number is worrisome. An abnormal CBC can be diagnostic of leukemia and lymphoma, but it is important to note that most children with neck malignancies have normal CBC’s.

Other simple tests include a sedimentation rate (a general blood test that indicates whether something significant might be going on in the body as a whole), blood chemistries (LDH is often elevated in malignancies, AST and ALT are often elevated in infections that cause enlarged lymph nodes), and a tuberculosis skin test. Depending on the results, other studies might include tests for specific illnesses (mono or HIV), and an x-ray or an ultrasound to get a better picture of what is going on.

If the node remains enlarged (greater than 1cm) for 2 to 3 months, or continues to grow after 2 weeks, then a biopsy of the lymph node may be indicated, unless the physical exam and lab tests are convincingly reassuring. At least half of the time, a biopsy does not reveal a definite cause for the enlargement, but the biopsy can rule out cancer and other serious problems.

Shelley, you bring to this situation your love as a mother, your difficult experience with the misdiagnosis of your own mother, and your determination to seek the best information available about swollen glands. Your pediatrician brings a wealth of knowledge, a practiced objectivity, and the experience of examining and following many lymph nodes. Together you have what it takes to ensure the best care for your daughter, as you keep the lines of communication open.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Nonny

    I have a swollen lymph nodes on my groin that doesn’t go down. Before I have herpes but after the infection, the nodes remains swollen and making me uncomfortable. I also noticed nodes on my neck. Was diagnosed with h pylori and bile reflux during endoscopy. Just worried on what to do.

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  2. Chris

    Hi I am 16 and my glands in the outside of me neck left side behind the ear are swollen again I went to the doctor they said I was fine but now they are swollen again

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  3. Natasha

    Hi my son is 20 months and has had a lump on his neck (just at the side of his ear & down slightly ) he’s had this lump for months I’ve never been worried (I feel so stupid) well he’s been poorly so took him to the Dr’s they said it’s hos lymph nodes and he’s refered him to the hospital! Should I worry? What will they do xx

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  4. Brandi

    My 9 year old very active, baseball playing, always outside son a week ago today found a lump on his neck. He had a nasty ear infection in his left ear and a small swollen lymph node behind his ear two weeks ago and was on an antibiotic when we first noticed the lump. By day two it was no longer one big lump but had broken into two separate ones. The lump behind his ear is gone, the ear infection is better. He ran a 102fever during the first days of the ear infection. But now a week after finding the lump he now has 5 of them they start a little below his hairline and go down to near his collar bone. They don’t hurt him and he has no other symptoms. Doctor says to watch them and he may need a stronger antibiotic but I’m worried. In the last two years thete have been a large handful of kids in our area diagnosed with different types of cancers, lymphoma and leukemia. I just don’t take my child’s health lightly and I’m very concerned. -Brandi

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  5. champak saloi

    Hi,i am 26 years old,i have been noticing two lymphs in the backside above my waist beneath the skin.it has been in the same position for the last 6or7 months.but it has no pain.sometimes it becomes smaller or sometimes bigger.whats the problem with me.plz reply

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  6. Amos

    I have been noticing swollen nodes by the both side of my neck for up to 2 months now and recently(like 2 to 3 weeks ago) noticed a node that is bigger than the ones on my neck under jaw…but this nodes haven’t been painful so far but am scared…please what is this?

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    • Cassey

      hello,
      I had the same problem too, swell on the right side of my front neck for few month already. i had consulted 2 different doctors and they both say its fine. after that i consulted ENT specialist and he insert a mini camera into my throat and nose to check it out, he say nothing serious, just that it’s infection on the inside of my throat. but no pain at all…i’m quite scared too but after the specialist told me that it’s quite a relief. He gave me Augmentin antibiotic for treatment.

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  7. NaTasha

    My 18 month old son has been fighting sickness for over 2 months and he has seen 3 different doctors and a specialist and every time they think it is one thing it turns up a new symptom and rules out what they thought it was before. My son use to be so happy all of the time and now it’s a fight to get a smile out of him. He has 2 swollen lymph nodes one on either side of his neck and has sores all over his scalp. When they seem to heal he gets a new sore in its place. He keeps a sinus infection and he just had to have tubes put in his ears last Wednesday because he has had 8 ear infections in the last 6 months. His appetite has decreased and he’s been at 23 pounds since he was a year old. Please help me, no one seems to know how to help my baby :(

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    • Norma

      Hello! Based on my experience with my 11 month old, I would bet on yeast infectin. Since he had so many ear infections, I suppose he was on antibiotics a lot – that kills bacteria bad and good so it’s perfect ground for yeast overgrow. Unfortunately, conventional doctors don’t know much about it and don’t find it serious so its up to you to learn what you can about it and where to seek for help. Also, fungal ear infection is always chronic, rarely acute to show redness or swelling but is a good ground for bacteria to get stuck. Hopefully your pediatrician is better knowledged or at least more persistant in finding the answer. Wish all the best to you and your son.

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    • Lala

      Is he okay? Do you
      Know anything? My baby girl has swollen lymph nodes on sides of her neck.

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  8. Tavia

    Hi my daughter has been to the hospital for her lymph nodes on her right side of her neck she has 2 large swollen nodes measuring 3 cm. she’s been on two anyibiotics and if this last one doesn’t work they want to remove her nodes I’m scared because they are on her neck sight what happens if she starts bleeding to people normally get surgery around there necks ? Help scared mum :(

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  9. Charlotte

    Hello there my son is 10 nearly 11 and he has had a swollen lymph node in his neck for 6 years maybe over he has been to the doctors loads of times and has had blood tests he has always had problems with tonsillitis never any pain and they always seem to be swollen loads of silver in his mouth and he clears his throat a lot he now has 2 small ones behind his ear they have been there for about 6 weeks that I know of they have given him antibiotics which have made no difference and he has now got one at the other side of his throat no pain in any of them and even though he had antibiotics they said he had no infection they just wanted to be sure I’m worried because his tempricture seems to fluctuate sometimes he feels so hot quite often actually and he sweats a lot get hot just from sat with clothes on sweats on a night to the point I have to dry him with a towel turn the pillow and quilt he can’t sleep with jarmas as on he gets too hot and often has a fan there doing blood tests but what happens next it sound to me like my son has lymphoma and I’m so scared thank you

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  10. heather gowans

    thank you for the answer to this mother about lymph nodes in her child. My grandson also has a node in his neck and has had for 6 months and is larger now. he also has another one we can now notice beside this one. My daughter died of ependymoblastoma when she was 5 and my partner has CLL so i have been concerned but do not want to worry my daughter. This has helped me very much.

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  11. Brittany Young

    My daughter is 2 1/2months old and she was 6 weeks early she has had a cold for almost a month now and yesterday we took her in to get blood done and everything was negative but her lymph test was a little night and I had no idea what that ment the doctor did not explain that to me and that’s why I am on here should I be worried about this I do t feel any nodes anywhere but I am a new mom and I don’t know what to really do I am really nervous what should I do?

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  12. Lynnette Hutchinson

    This is one of the best articles I have seen on the net. Very informative and educational. I am a registered nurse and did not know all of the specifics. Thank you Dr. Greene

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  13. Simon

    My daughter is 12months old she has two enlarged lymph nodes around the neck, me and her mother we are both hiv+ but she was born perfectly healthy and the first test results @9months were negative…..please advise am having sleepless nights.

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    • Gwendolyn

      I hope your wife didn’t breast feed her!

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  14. Ale

    thanks soon much!!!so much good informations!!!

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  15. kirsty campbell

    My son has been having recurring swollen nodes in neck on right hand side and tonsils for last 18mths but has got increasingly worse the last 9mths, he now gets this every 4wks give or take along with very high fever, sickness, usually takes 2wks to get back energy, since it started he has had change in personality, constant ear pain, neck pain, torticolus in neck, issues with right eye, light sensitive, night sweats yet feels cold to touch, now he is complaining about right leg, he limps a lot on it, his nodes on his neck no longer go away they are just constantly there , he no longer turns his neck freely, his most resent symptom is headache at base of scull to which he was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis, after being checked over the dr sent him home, its progresivly getting worse all the time, he has been waiting for his appointment with ENT for 5mths now and im going out my mind with worry, he is a totally new person and always in pain with something, any ideas would be much apreciated,

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  16. Dixieann holder

    Hi my son hayden after two day old the dr. Had circumcisied my son by my request…. he two yes today and he have a lump on his penis when i first saw it it was only skin growing but now it growing more n om feeling a seed.. i take him to the dr befor m they say that happen its ok.. can you help me with that.

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  17. Yasintha Pillay

    My son who is 12 has swollen lymph nodes on both sides of his neck for the past 3 months. It started one day when he got up with a stiff neck and developed a lump on the opposite side. I took him to his peadiatrician who said that the node was due to trauma to the area and sent him for physiotherapy. I still insisted on blood tests. All bloods were normal except for a high phosphate level of 2 and slight anaemia. A few days later i noticed a lump in the same spot on the other side of the neck. I was not happy and again visited the peadiatrician. I was told that its common to have nodes on either side if there was trauma to the area. I have been reading a lot and i am terrified as my son has recently been losing his appetite and has been losing weight. He also suffers with lots of stomach pain. The nodes to me seem to either be the same size or they could be slightly smaller. I was told that they should be normal after about a month. 3 months or longer and they are still there.Please help. Where to from here?

    Regards
    Yas

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    • Glenn

      I too have the same symptoms, any luck on finding out what was wrong?

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    • Danielle Roberts

      My son who is nearly 9 has had a swollen lymph node on his neck for 7 months I to him doctors who said it was 3cm in size took him to ent who said he has a few enlarged at the back of his neck so he has requested a scan (waiting for a date) he said he is more than certain that it’s due to his age is this normal procedure

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      • cam

        hi would like to ask what happened

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  18. heather

    Dr. Greene,
    My little boy is 3.5 months old. He has two swollen lymph nodes at the base of his skull. The pediatrician did not do any testing 3 weeks ago when she said he had a viral infection. He has not shown any symptoms but the nodes are still swollen. He has been switched formulas numerous times to try to control projectile spit up and is also on Zantac for reflux. He did have RSV, diagnosed January 11th but recovered quickly after hospitalization. Should I take him for a second opinion on the nodes or should I wait. I’m terrified it could be cancer as one of my friends little boy has recently been diagnosed with lymphoma. Please I would greatly appreciate your opinion.

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    • Norma

      hi! had same problems with my boy who is now 11 months old. The cause of the reflux in our case was yeast wich I passed through breast feeding which was not diagnosed. He had no other symptoms, doctors said it was all normal but it got worse. Doctor recommended Zantac but we refused because of serious side effects and basically it turned out I would have made him even worse because antiacids help yeast infection spread fast. The problem is not high stomack acid but low acid and by stopping the production of acid you make things worse. Talk to the doctor to consider tring milk formula with no cow milk, corn starch -I think there’s only Neocate that has none – and stop giving him Zantac. Of course, all that in agreement with your doctor. We weren’t lucky enough to have one who is familiar with this so things got way worse. Fungus will demage your baby’s digestion tract and it will be worse when he start solids if you don’t resolve the problem prior to that. Wish you luck!

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  19. Julie B

    My 3 year old daughter has a hard small lump just above her collar bone and I had it checked by two Doctors because of the location which I had read could be a sign of something concerning. It is however pea sized so not 1cm or bigger. As yet it has not notably got any bigger. It has been there for at least two weeks when I first noticed it. Both DRs have dismissed it as nothing to worry about it but both said to keep an eye on it. It is hard and fixed. She has an awful cough but that is probably just a common cold as others in the family had recently had the same. Do I just wait and see if it goes or gets any bigger or do I need to be worried because of the location?

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    • Sarah myerscough

      Hi Julia
      I’ve found this post because my 6 year old has the same thing. It is on her right side, just above her colour bone and is like a hard pea under the skin. I have also read it could be something suspicious. I’m wondering whether to take her to the Dr. Did you get anywhere with this? Do you have any advice?
      Thanks
      Sarah

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  20. Karen

    Please help, the pedia of my girl who’s 19 months old noticed lymph nodes behind her left ear and one on her left groin when she was 6 months. She’s 19 months now and they’re still there. I am really worried. As I have hep B. She has complete immunization especially for anti hep B. I’m so concern that she might be getting it too that’s why she’s having lymph nodes. But she’s very active, happy baby. Very seldom she gets sick. This has been really bothering me. Please enlighten me.

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  21. Damian

    I’ve got nodes swollen through my body .

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    • Damian

      I’ve have a swollen splin and liver my atl are high been in out the hospital 2 years have had 2 nodes removed no cancer found biopsy on liver . Brushing easy short term memory lost have had test done but can not find a illness

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  22. Nathen Kirk

    Hey Dr. Greene

    I just wanted to say I found your website very helpful with the information that you took the time to write. You saved my anxiety attack. Thank you so much.

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  23. Valarie

    My 8 yr old daughter has 2 swollen lymph nodes almost under her arm the doctor put her on antibiotic should I be worried my grandmother says I should take her and get the fluid taken out of it and sent off to be tested

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  24. Danielle Shelley

    I have a 1st grade student in my class with visible lymph nodes sticking out from the side of his neck for about 6 months or longer. Since I am also a nurse, this concerns me. He is usually sick with a runny nose, and has dark circles under his eyes. The parents are not really concerned, and to my knowledge have not sought medical attention. Does this sound very dangerous?
    Thank you from a Very worried teacher!

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  25. TPJ

    Hi Dr. My 17 yo son has complained of a headache for the past week (after school/workouts). He is taking adderall for add only on school days so we thought it was the medication (never had headaches before). He had a fever last night but then mentioned a lump in the back of his neck (cervical lymph node). It is the size of a marble and somewhat pliable. I took him to Urgent Care and strep test and flu test came back normal. The doctor said it was a swollen node. He is not lethargic so I opted not to do mono test and I’ve had it and are familiar with the symptoms. Last night, as teenager do, he mentioned that that “lump” has been there for a while but doesn’t know how long. Definitely before Christmas but after October when he was at a checkup. He is tall 6’2 and skinny 145/150 and his appetite is not huge when on medication during the week. I am waiting for his FP office to open but should I be concerned? I have a gut feeling this is not the normal result of a virus. Medical history is chronic strep, adhd, asthma and at 8 and 9 he had chronic hives for 8 week with no explanation. He has also had a history of rashes that appear and disappear with no definitive diagnosis even after biopsy although he hasn’t had any strange rashes in 2 years and has been relatively healthy.

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    • Lisa

      Can I ask what the doctor said? My son is much younger but has swelling in multiple nodes in the neck and groin and scrotum, one measuring over 3cm like a big lump on his neck. He has not had a fever but has getting hives all over his body. He has huge tonsils but they don’t appear to be infected. Strep and flu were negative.

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  26. Brandi B.

    Hello Dr. Greene,
    I have a 17 month old daughter who I recently took to her Pediatrician’s office because I was concerned about a swollen lymph node in the back of her neck that has grown within the last 3 1/2 months. I brought it to the PA’s attention several times who stated that i shouldn’t be concerned due to illness that she had previously had and that the swelling should go down in approximately a month and to be patient wait. However it never went down in fact it grew, at last measurement it was “pushing 2 cm” according to the Dr. and our last visit. It is soft and mobile, Blood work was performed CBC, EBV, AST, ALT & a CRP all results were normal. I was told that I should just give it another month and to monitor it. My daughter is teething, but has no fever or other signs of sickness. And hasn’t been ill for over a month a half. I have requested to go to an ENT. Is there something I am not being told about or that it could possibly be? I am very concerned and just want to make sure that my daughter is getting the help she needs.

    Sincerely,

    Brandi B.

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    • Nwuest

      I am interested I you reiteration as my daughter is the same age and is experiencing the same thing. We had blood work done yesterday but no results yet. Any new updates for your sweet girl?

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  27. Cordero morgan

    Hi dr. Green my name is Cordero Morgan I’m 27 years old and I’ve had that is not under my job for about a month and a half and I’m really worried that it may be cancer or just swollen glands but I really do not can you help me please

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    • Hi Cordero,

      I think autofill may have caused your comment to be a jumble. Can you take a look and make it clear?

      Thanks,
      @MsGreene

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  28. Stephanie

    Hello DrGreene
    My nine year old daughter has been dealing with palpable cervical lymph nodes for the past six months. Towards the end of July and the beginning of August she had gotten really sick with what the doctors still cant tell me, however she was running a 104 temp off and on for a week straight never really got below 102. I had her into our local er 3 times and they ran mono,cmv, and ebv tests. they all came back negative except for the ebv which was a positive for a previous illness. Anyway these lymph nodes are still enlarged and after blood work coming back normal and a chest xray also normal im not getting any answers and im veryconcerned. These nodes from the ultrasound are as follows an enlarged right upper cervical lymph node with thickened
    cortex measuring up to 2.8 x 0.9 cm. There is enlarged left upper cervical
    lymph node with thickened cortex measuring 3.3 x 1.2 cm. A few other
    subcentimeter lymph nodes are seen within the surrounding regions. She just had another ultrasound and they havent gotten any smaller infact there is now another node close to the left one that is also somewhat large. What could this be caused from or what steps need to be taken? Thank you for any answers or suggestions im very scared for her.

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  29. HD SINGH

    sir my 10 month old child having 03 glands behind left ear.he is also having dentition this time.kindly advice.

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  30. Amy

    Please help! I don’t have health insurance so I can’t afford to run to the doctor for every concern. Yesterday I noticed to hard lumps on the lower back of my head. They are tender, hard, and seem fixed in place. After doing research I learned it’s most likely swollen opical lymph nodes. Many pages I read said to call a doctor if they don’t go down after a few weeks, and to call a doctor if they are hard and fixed in place. Well, I’ve only noticed it for about a day, but should I call a doctor since they are hard and fixed in place? I’m freaking out. Thank you,
    Amy

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    • Renato

      Hello! I have the exact same problem. They’re hard and fixed. Did you go to the doctor?

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  31. Indranil

    My younger son, now 8 yrs old, got an enlarged lymph node @ left neck since birth (Size <= 1cm). My older one was born with one but it disappears once he is 8 yrs old. My younger son is very lean and thin but very active. When he suffers from cold and cough that node gets enlarged, after the medication for the cold-n-cough the node automatically decreases in size, but never goes away. What should I do?

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  32. Irina

    Hi Dr.Greene.
    My son is 2 and a half years old.when he was 11 months old has had surgery for lymphangioma cervical (left)neck and inner attached to mediastin.two months after surgery it has grown back but only neck and then reduced in size.stable by all echo afterwards. Since 8 months swallow lymph nodes pea size appeared in his right side of neck,in viral upper nose neck cold and infections they grow in size then reduce to pea size after viral episodes. Also nasal polyps with snoring at night appeared 4 months ago.serous otitis that cured then left only small snoring. sometimes (often)night sweats also.and small apnea.now since two weeks I felt also pea sized lymph nodes by side of his ears and lower head…one particular hard I think 1 cm or so. Can he have an underlying condition to his lymphatic system?what tests shoul we run to exclude this possibility? His surgeon tells there is nothing to worry as the child is active and seems alright, also his pediatrician says all children have usually swollen lymph nodes… He is 96 cm long 14,5 kilos very active, eats well, likes to dance sing speaks fluently knows small poems already,very smart,I was told his develoment is 3,5 years also height,so like one year advanced his age …I am afraid he can have something that is not yet discovered.many thanks for the help!!!

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    • Anna W

      Please check your son IMMEDIATELY for nasopharyngeal carcinoma. I am not a doctor, but my mother was treated for it with exact same symptoms. PLEASE seek multiple opinions and go to the ENT doctor.

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  33. Tanushree

    Hi Doc,

    My daughter is 4 yrs old….a few months back my daughter complained about a swollen lymphnode just above collar bone……we showed doc n did blood test n usg n medicine was given….it came down but its still there…we r very worried about it. Until now we have showed almost 4 5 doc but nobody is saying anything ..can u plz help us about it…we r very worried abd tensed…

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    • Julie B

      Hi

      Was wondering if you had found out any more. My 3 year old daughter also has a hard noticeable lymph node just above her collar bone on one side and 2 DRs have dismissed it as nothing to worry about, but I am concerned because of the location. It is slightly larger than a pea.

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  34. Vi

    Hi,I am concerned about my lymph nodes. It’s worrying me, it’s the ones in my neck, and I am 14, 2 minutes ago I looked at them in the mirror cause they hurt really bad, and they are so big that I can’t see my atoms apple when I swallow.all I see is a lump of stuff moving when I swallow.i feel like my lymph nodes are a giant lump all clumped together.i had my mom feel them and she said they were swollen.But now it decreases in swelling and it hurts more on the ones under my jaw and chin,it’s like one minute there throbbing with pain,then the next I can’t tell I’m even swallowing.it hurts,my mom said she’ll make an appointment with my doctor,but what do I do till then?? Should I be concerned that I can’t see my atoms apple at all? Plz I need to know before I end up yelling at my mom to call the doctor,plz help I need to know ASAP

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  35. lisa

    Hi, I am 35 years old and 9 nine weeks pregnant. The last couple of weeks my right axillary lymph nodes have become the size of a small golf ball. I had an ultra sound done on it today and the radiologist decided to biopsy it. My question is what could it be? A little more about my history the same lymph nodes were swollen two years ago and were monitored for six month and were determined to be benign due them not changing size.

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  36. sherin

    i’m 23yrs old girl.few months ago i gt high neck pain on the left side and when i touched i felt its a gland and thats gland enlargement and i didn tk it seriously and now from 2 weeks it really hurts and it enalrged to a pea like form and the pain radiates to ear , left side head ,collarbone and also high pain on shoulder too..i wnt to the ent suregeon and aftr the cbc and crp check came normal and doctor said nothing to worry and gv me some allergy tablets .and this wnt sounds good..and now from 2days i hv severe throat pain and breathing issues and i need to take 3 or 4 painkillers(medium dose) at nights and day times but the pain is still there..(not related to this but before 8 months i gt high pain on hip cant walk and consulted ortho and told me to take xray after taking it he diagonisd avn and refered me to take mri on hip..mri result came normal but doctor suggested me to take a brain mri coz he noticed everything wrong on my left side and he suggested a chance of stroke on left side but i couldnt gt chance to take it with reference to the mri he prescribed painkillers and nerve issue related tablets)) .. i told my ent to take an ultrasound but he said there z no need for that and the lymph on the neck is tender and movable cant sleep with left side and slight abdomen pain and have sinus from 6yrs and now i have severe pain on right ear and neck too..one friend of mine refered this to a doctor and he suggested it might be cancer .so plz help me

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  37. Tonya

    Hi,
    I am writing in hopes you could give me a little advice. In January of this year, my left ear started ringing for no apparent reason. High pitched 99% of the time but beats with pulse for the other 1%; it never ceases. Doctor said no infection and sent me home. Two and a half months ago, I noticed my lymph node behind the same ear is swollen. Last week I got a uti. Doc prescribed Bactrim twice a day for 7 days. UTI cleared up and lymph node behind ear went back to normal size. I finished the antibiotic 2 days ago and noticed today the same lymph node is swollen again. Ringing never stopped but did seem to change a bit in intensity. I have also had waves of intense nausea a few times over the past 2 months and night sweats on and off for the past year. I am a 40 year old female, and have had intermittent alternating constipation/diarrhea IBS with bloody stools in the past but not lately (past few months have been normal). My doctor would not prescribe me more antibiotics and can not see me until next week. I believe I have some type of ear infection and the antibiotics were clearing it up but I needed to be on them another 7 days. Do you think I should be concerned about my symptoms or that they may be a sign of a serious illness? Any
    advice you could give is very much appreciated. Thank you.

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  38. Cherry🍒

    Good night Doc,

    My daughter is 18 months young, for some weeks now she have a stiff gland behind her left ear. Base on my evaluation everytime I get her from daycare it’s a size bigger. Took her to the doctor when I felt it but couldn’t see it. The Doc told me it it is from teething. Now it has grown and is visible and I’m very worried that it might be something more than just teething. Doc should I be worried/ take her back to get her check?

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  39. Asma

    I am 35 years old 32 weeks pregnant. I have same problem. I saw a swelling in my armpits, both sides when I was 28 weeks pregnant. I went to my ob she said its lymphnodes, but we can’t do any thing right now because you are pregnant.

    I had doubt that I used matchine for hair removal that hurt me. I saw bleeding also in armpit. Then few days later I used hair removing cream to remove left hairs. When I visited dr again I used hair removing cream. My armpit was burning, painful, itching. I thought puss will come out then I will be relieved, but it remained swollen for 15 days. Then I went to gyn for regular check up she said I should leave this problem sometimes infections in pregnancy don’t go completely after delivery. If it still there I will send you to the surgeon for biopsy. You will be clear …

    I was so worried. Lymphnodes were soft spongy type, but sometimes hurts. I can’t even shave. I went to the gp for secound opinion. He couldn’t feel lymphnode because lymph is not hard. He said there in no nodes to worry about it, but I can see swelling. He said it must be some hurt hair follical.

    Then I saw another skin specialts. He didnt feel. I showed him my both armpits. He said its lymphadenopathy, don’t worry you will be fine. He gave me round of antibiotic and anti inflamatory tablet and for itching. No change to my symptoms then after few days I saw another skin specialist. He gave me different antibiotic for 5 days, but nothing.

    Now my both armpit hurt. Sometimes I feel some thing warm is spreding in my armpit. I am pregnant, so tense, I cant tell what I’m going through. I’m waiting for biopsy. My delivery date is 7 oct 2015. I have no other problem. Swelling one side on left so hurt ..sorry for mistakes I’m from Pakistan.

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    • Asma,

      It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. Wow.

      It’s great that your due date is only a week away. I know you’re anxious to have a biopsy and get to the bottom of this. I do think it’s comforting that this started after you used the hair removal machine and cream. What you are experiencing is likely related to that.

      In the meantime, be sure to celebrate your new baby. This is an amazing time. Don’t miss out because you are worried.

      Best,
      Cheryl
      Executive Producer, DrGreene.com

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    • Lemmy

      Asma, I came across your post as I was looking for information for myself and noticed your due date was just a little while ago. How are you doing?

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    • KB

      I had a similar issue – a very large, swollen (and painful) lymph under my arm late in pregnancy. The lump was a centimeter in diameter; you could see it clearly. My OB did not know what it was and referred me to a breast cancer specialist. The specialist took a biopsy, which came back clean; no cancer. After I had the baby and was able to breast feed (ended up pumping), the lump went down gradually. Now, a year after, it is barely noticeable and not sore. In retrospect, totally non-medical opinion, I believe the swelling of the lymph was caused by the big change in tissue as the breast prepared for milk production. Strange that neither my OB or the specialist was able to tell what it was. That was incredibly worrisome, and worry is the LAST thing you need just before birthing a child. Hope you are doing well, and hope this story might help allay some fears.

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      • Stephanie

        Maybe a galactocyle?

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    • Rebecca

      I had these horribly with my last two pregnancies and they scared me to death…but they went away after I delivered.

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  40. Ryan heisle

    Hi my son is 13 months and he has had this bumps in the base on he’s head since birth. He’s doctor said it was normal but I’m still considered. He was 6 weeks early and only 4bl 4oz . Should I push the issue to he’s doctor

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  41. Ethel

    I have a daughter who is 18months now.I find most of the information here very useful

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  42. usha

    Hi…My Son was 4 & half years old. 6 months back he was ill & I took him to doctor. He was given antibiotics. After a week later a saw a lump on his neck & worried & went to his doctor & also given antibiotics again & waited for 2 weeks to check that the lymp node to reduce. But it wasn’t, so doctor took a second strep for blood test & fnac test & also a TB test. All the reports were normal, but still the lump did not reduced. My son is active & he is not suffering from fever, throat pain, cold & cough, but I am a little scared doctor. Please advise me.

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  43. taylor

    Hi doc! So my son has has a swollen lymphnode behind his left ear and at the base of skull starting of neck. He has has this Daimiel lymphnode for more than 2 months now. I have repeatedly gone to the doctor and told her my concern and even at one point went to thenavall hospital to her tests and a second opinion on what this could be. Sinceramente its only in one area of the body no where else. They did blood work and it came back perfectly normal. They have him on antibiotics that I did not give to him because he was not sick no fever, nothing. They said it could be teething, which he is, and that his lymphnode is no bigger than .1.4cm so I should not be so worried. Yet my doc also mentioned this could just be an enlarged lymphnode and or allergies which we live in an área where there is a lot of pollen she also said and its nothing to be concerned with. She didn’t see anything to raise a red flag. Should I look into it more or leave it be? It’s starting to worry me more and more only because it is in that one area and has not gone down in swelling much.

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    • rajeshri

      Hey my baby is also having swollen lymph nodes at same location as you mentioned and i also noticed it on 2nd August . Tell me how’s your baby now . Does any of them reduced in size . Pls reply i m so worried

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  44. Babelyn

    My son is 14 months old. Since birth he has 2 nodes at the back of head (base/sort of hair line) located left and right. We didn’t mind it. However, early last month of July we noticed that there were more than 2 nodes on same location. We were worried why this multiplied and so we consulted a pediatrician. The pedia then checked and said that there were other nodes present. She told us that my son might have primary complex so she requested for chest x-ray. She also performed PPD Test on my son. This coming August 04, 2015 Tuesday is our follow-up check-up on his pedia for the result of the PPD test. I am VERY MUCH WORRIED. I hope you could somehow enlighten me on this condition. Im so so so “Nega”. Please I want the best for my son. He’s my life… Thank you.

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  45. Bernadette

    Hi there, my 4 year old daughter had developed a lump just below her armpit it’s not massively big I’d say a bit smaller than a pea she seems to say it hurts if I press it…as I was inspecting it…Well that was last week I discovered that.. Now this week she not to well she very pale off her food and she seems to empty her bowels alot especially after every meal.. Last four days she’s had diarrhoea but no sickness is this maybe linked should I be worried… Doctors appointment booked for next week…
    Thanks

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  46. rasmus

    Can a small fixed lump in child’s neck on right side less then .5 cm can be maligant…and are all fixed nodes maligant or there are bening reasons also…he is going through episode of cough and cold and is of 4 and a half year….can it also be anything else then lymph node

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  47. Kristina

    Thank you for this article! It has answered many questions of mine where other websites have confused me. Very well written!

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  48. Elizabeth

    Hello Doctor,

    My name is Elizabeth and I have a 4 year old daughter. I am desperately looking for some answer and I am hoping you can guide me in the right direction. It all started 3 weeks ago we went camping and during a hike we got little lost and by the time we went back to the campground our daughter had fever. She started shivering and we came back home. At home I gave her ibuprofen and she was fine the next day. Two days later she broke fever again no more than 101 and I took her to the pediatrician. By that time I notice a strange mark on her left arm. Is like dark pigmentation in a vertical line on the inside of her left arm. My husband says that is probably due to her transitional bed that she turns and hits herself on her arm, but the pigmentation is starve is dark she is very light complexion . By the way we are Hispanic don’t know if mkes a difference. Her pediatrician order blood work CBC with differential and the results were normal doctor said nothing to worry about that was two weeks ago. Yesterday she woke up with a rash on her left cheek that now went to the right cheek. We took her to children’s hospital and the doctor prescribe topical antibiotic and said it was most likely viral and that it would go away in a couple of days. I really hope I am over thinking it. I would love to hear your opinion. She has good appetite,lots of energy, good spirits. Thank you for for taking the time to read this.

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    • Stephanie

      Could it be she was bit by a tick? Have her checked for lymes disease maybe

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  49. Sarah newell

    I took my daughter to the Dr about 3 months ago as she had enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of her neck, under her jaw, on back of the head, behind the ears and going into her collar bone, little ones under her armpits, in her groin and behind her knees. At the time she had not been ill and the ones from the back of her head into her collar were like a chain running down.

    The doctor measured the one under her collar bone and told me to go back in a few weeks. When I went back the doctor said it had gotten smaller and when I saw my daughters consultant she barely examined her and documented that she had 3 or 4 enlarged nodes when in reality there were 30 or more. Two weeks ago I noticed that the nodes on her neck have enlarged to about 2cm and when she lifts her head back the ones under her jaw measures about 2 & half cm. They seem to be fixed to deeper tissue.

    My doctor just said she will speak to a paediatrican and find out what course of action to take. When I first noticed the nodes 3 months ago she had a widespread rash which turned to dry skin all over her body and no other signs of illness. Since then she has been snoring loudly every night and have noticed when she’s asleep her heart sounds like it misses a beat then speeds up then goes back to normal.

    I am really concerned and don’t know what to do. Please help.

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    • Sarah, with 2cm nodes on the neck for more than a couple of weeks I recommend a more in-depth evaluation (and am happy if it all turns out to be normal). You might want to print this article, with its specific recommendations, for your doctor. Perhaps the best bet is a direct second opinion consultation with a paediatrician, if possible. All the best!

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    • rajeshri

      Hey dear how’s your daughter now. Could you find out the reason . My son is two year old , he is also having same problem . I m so worried pls reply as soon as possible

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    • Allie

      This sounds a lot like what is going on with my almost 4 year old. Did you get any answers?

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  50. Fariyah shahker

    Hello,my son is 3 years 2 month old,he has got a swollen lymph node behind the ear on the neck since three months. Doc diagnosed it as bacterial infection or can be tuberculosis secondary infection. He is on antibiotics treatment, gone through various tests, still waiting for cultural report of the fnac of gland. Quite worried doctor, do you have the answer?

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    • I bet you are worried, but it sounds like your doctor is doing the testing that will provide the information your need. How long do you expect the test results to take to be done?

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  51. gazi saiful islam

    Very very urgent and important article. It will so helpful to the parents and patients of the world.

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  52. Stephanie

    Dr.

    Is it normal for a 7week old baby to have swollen lymph nodes? She has three. Two behind her head close to one ear and one behind close to the other ear. Pea size.

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  53. Primrose

    Hi Dr,

    A friend of mine, her son is having swollen lymph nodes on and off behind the ears, is it normal?

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  54. Joya

    Hi doctor..
    Please tell me that tb lymphnode on collobone (neck) will occure to my colleague and she is 30year old and suffering badly to weakness …Can you tell me that it is curable decease? or what are the precaution she take for her………she is under treatment…how much time it will take to cure. It will be dangerous or curable. what are the diffrent stages of that tb.

    pls share your view.

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  55. brahm kataria

    Hi doctor..
    Please tell me that tb node on neck will occure twice …my brother is under treatment of tb node on neck..it will occure again…i n worried…ot will be dangerous or curable..he is at age of 39 and sugar patient also…

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  56. Nalena

    My son has had enlarged lymph node since the day he was born. He is now 7 months. I am rather worried even though his doctor said he is fine. Should i get someone else to check him?

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  57. Jenna

    My daughter has had swollen lymph nodes on her neck for approximately 8 months now, she is currently 15 months old. They seem to be in a cluster at the top part of her neck. She also had a small one under her armpit on the same side. All of the lumps are movable but rubbery feeling. She does not appear to be sick in any way. Great weight and height and grows fast. She plays like a normal 1 year old as well. I can’t help but stress about this as my sister had lymphoma. I have taken her to one doctor who said he was not concerned about them but I’m still worried because they haven’t gone away or gotten smaller. Do I need to be concerned about this being something serious? And should I take her for a second opinion?

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    • You should never worry about offending a doctor by getting a second opinion. The fact that you’re worried is reason enough to get one. If all it does is set your mind at ease, it’s worth the time and expense.

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    • Emily

      Hi Jenna,
      have you had any response to this question? My son has had swollen glands in his neck for over 12 months and whenever I bring it up it gets brushed aside as nothing but a few more have popped up and tonight I’ve found 1 that doesn’t move… I’m concerned and will book him in again after this long weekend. just looking around to see if other children have experienced this too…

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      • Amy

        My son currently has a swollen lymph on the back of his neck. I took him in to the doctor as soon as I noticed it and she was not worried because he had some scratches and bug bites on that side of his head. She did however say that if it kept getting bigger or got any friends, as in any of his other lymph nodes joined the party, that they should do blood work.

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      • Hellen

        Hi.Was your son examined by a doctor? What was the outcome? My daughter has also had a swollen lymph node in her neck for over one year, and the number has increased to five currently. I took her to a doctor as soon as I noticed the first one, but I was told to ignore it as it would disappear. I took her to a different doctor last week and was given antibiotics then advised to go back after finishing them. Meanwhile, I’m beside myself with worry and would like to know other people’s experiences.

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        • Shauna

          I have the same problem, but it is a problem that I have with all 3 of my kids. My middle child who was 2 at the time got sick around March last year and his one lymphnode swelled up and looked like a peanut m&m sitting right on the left side of his neck. It’s been well over a year and it flares up and goes down when he’s sick but even when it’s not flared its still very noticeable. Now I have this weird node complex I’m constantly feeling my children’s necks checking their lymphnode and all 3 of them have the same problem area. My oldest is 5 and my youngest is 6 months and for some reason the left side of the neck is the problem area for these suckers. When I was going through the stress of it with my middle baby( now 3) I had to of taken him to the doctors at least 20x in a year to have him checked and they told me the same thing every time that he was fine. Still not convinced I took him to see an ears,nose,and throat specialist for a 2nd opinion and he told me flat out that my kids would probably be better off if I was a bad mom lol. He did an ultrasound to take a better look at it and they said it was within safe limits, that it’s just a tiny thing, but when he turns his head it looks humungous. They gave me the option to get it removed because it bothered me so bad not because it posed a threat. And I was considering it until they told me the risks associated with anesthesia with kids so ypoung, so I didn’t go through with it. But it still bothers me really bad even with all the reassurance I’ve got from different doctors. But the fear of what it is or what it ever could be scares me to my core. Especially seeings how if you Google enlarged lymph nodes the first thing that pops up is cancer.

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          • Casey

            I feel the same way with my three year old. At what point do they worry then? My sons just looks so big when his neck is turned. He only has one in the left side but since he was born it had been there.

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  58. yericka

    Hi doctor!
    My baby is 5 weeks old and he has a pea size, squishy ball on the back of his head. He was fighting a cold, can that be the reason that appear?

    Also, sometimes it seems like its hard for him to breath. His pediatrician said it is normal, but I don’t think so because I’ve never seen a baby do that before. Could that also be the cause of the litte ball?

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  59. danielle

    My 2 year old daughter has a lump on the side of her neck about a cm in size. It’s soft and movable under the skin. She has had a cold recently so I thought it was a lymph node? But i did notice it a few weeks before she got ill. Ive taken her to see a nurse and a doctor who have both said its her lymph nodes and that they will go down, bur it’s still there. It hasn’t gotten any bigger and she’s well. Should I be concerned? Thanks.

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    • MOHAN

      My 2 children have Lymph nodes on the neck, but they are active. I am taking my son to a homeopathy hospital for the treatment for future precaution. I have not found any problem with my children, but I am following with the doctor prescribed pills for the child.

      One think I can make you alert, please be careful if your child is suffering with a cold or fever twice or thrice in a month. This may leads to enlarged lymph nodes and infection creating.

      But before worrying with all this, consult the best Paedritician and the same I have consulted. Doctor said not to worry until / unless the lymph nodes enlarge — i feel this is wrong and the doctor said to have proper nutrition food for the child-that I am taking care.

      My advice to consult anyone of the specialist for this or Homeopathy for future safety of the child.
      But I heard (and searched on the Internet) that this problem can be solved through homeopathy pills instead of surgery.

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  60. Kylie

    I would really be grateful for some advice on my son’s health, please.

    Around Halloween time my son started with a nasty dry cough and I also noticed the lymph nodes in the right side of his neck were swollen. I took him to our GP whom told us it was a viral infection so I was ok with this at first. I kept a close eye on my son and about a week or too after he started with this, he started to have trouble swallowing food and then often started to choke and needed more water to while eating to help him swallow.

    When it got to Christmas and there was still no change, I went back to the GP who again said it was viral. Then it got to the 9th of January and my son was extremely ill with a high temp and still having the previous symptoms. He was admitted to hospital with an infection in his lymph nodes on the right side of his neck.

    After finishing the course of antibiotics he improved only by the fact his temperature wasn’t high any more, but his other symptoms remained — the cough and trouble swallowing. By this point my son was also coughing so much and so violently he was also vomiting with it, and going extremely red in the face.

    After this point I noticed his lymph nodes in his arm pits and groin were also now swollen. He had started having nose bleeds and diarrhea, pains in his stomach and legs. So yet again I took him to my GP who did a full blood count to rule out any cancers and other things. It all came back clear. But still over two weeks later there is still no change. My son hasn’t gotten any better its going on to the 14th week now and I am extremely worried.

    My GP isn’t wanting to look into this any more and has put it down to a bad winter making my son ill.

    I am not happy. I want to find out what is going on with my son. His lymph nodes are still swollen so I am concerned his problems maybe be connected to his lymph nodes. Are there any more tests that can be done for my own peace of mind to make sure everything is ruled out and there is nothing being missed?

    I had a very good friend who died from non-hodginks lymphoma that was diagnosed late. This is my main concern as a lot of what my son is going through is the same as what my friend went through. Any advice would be extremely helpful thank you.

    Kind Regards.

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    • Jessica

      I hope you have sought a second opinion. These symptoms sound serious. Do you have an update on your son’s condition. Many prayers!

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  61. carmen

    Can you please tell me if I should be worried. My daughter is 3 years old and has tested HIV and TB negative. She has this big glands in her neck and also in her head. What is the problem?

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  62. Chin

    Hello Doctor,

    My son was 4 years old and we noticed a lump at his collarbone and 3 small lump on his neck. I asked our GP last August and he stated it’s ok as my son was healthy and no other symptoms. Now it’s been 5 months. He still has it and now he says it’s painful sometimes. Please, do I need to have my son checked again. I’m really worried.

    Chin

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    • Tasha

      I would bring him to another doctor regarding the collarbone swollen lymph node. They can be serious (as said in the article)!

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  63. stephanie

    Hi.. I’ve had a lump in my abdomen lower left side for almost 6 months it doesn’t hurt but around the clock I’m cramping and a few months ago I skipped a whole menstrual cycle. .sometimes I feel another lump either side of my belly button..I was referred to do CT scan but couldn’t gather the money and to be honest was scared of finding out bad news..my grandfather died of leukemia a couple years ago..on both sides of my family cancer has been problematic..I had low energy before I felt the lump so it’s hard to say if it’s the reason I feel weak and fatigued. .emergency room doctors won’t do an ultrasound or ct scan..but same my lymph node is swollen for an unknown reason and it may be leukemia. .what are the chances it is I guess that’s my question?

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  64. Kylie

    My grandson is almost 1 years old he had lumps under his armpit. They develop to his head and back of his neck. The doctor said it’s swollen lymph nodes and prescribe him antibiotics and Advavtan cream. Can you please help me? Is that the right treatment and do I need to be concerned?

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    • Kylie

      Can you give me advice about this

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