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Swollen Lymph Gland
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Swollen Lymph Gland

Hi,

I have a persistently swollen lymph gland on the left side of my neck, under the back of my jaw. This began about 10 months ago with a feeling of pressure around my left ear, neck and jaw. Once the gland was swollen there was no pain and it didn't seem to grow any larger. It seemed quite soft and loose, easily moved by a fingertip. I have twice consulted my local Doctor about this (last time 5 months ago) and was told to not worry about it. After each examination other glands in my armpits and groin have swollen up and become tender, these return to normal after a week or so. A month ago I thought the swelling had gone, only for it to return a few days later (to a larger size and very tender for a few days), accompanied by a very sore throat. The gland now remains swollen to this larger size than before (but not tender), it seems a bit harder but I don't want to poke it too much and the left side of my throat remains sore. I didn't have a sore throat during the time the swollen gland was smaller.

About 6 months before this began I had an infection in my left ear, aggravated by continual scuba diving (my job), this cleared up but has left me with a permanent ringing in my ear. I've also had a wisdom tooth out of the upper left side of my jaw, again about 6 months before this began, the gum in this area is still often swollen or tender. Whenever I move my jaw from side to side or fully open my mouth, the left side clicks. In my late teens/early twenties I had recurring bouts of tonsilitis and throat infections, but have been free of them for the last several years. During my last visit to my Doctor a cursory examination of my ear and throat revealed a normal ear and throat.

My general state of health is good, I sleep well and have plenty of energy. I've been going to the gym the last 5 months and have put on about 8Kg of muscle weight.

I've posted this question as I'm worried by the persistant nature of this swelling. I understand some of the possible causes could be serious and would like to know what more harmless cause there could be. My Doctor has told me not to worry, but not explained what may be behind this. Also, how long should I leave it before demanding a more rigorous examination? Is it possible for a gland to remain harmlessly swollen for years? Is there anything I can do to resolve this situation?

Thanks, in advance.

Conn.
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If there is continuing concern about the swollen gland, you can ask for a referral to an ENT for a more thorough evaluation.  Lymphoma is the diagnosis that would be the most serious cause of swollen lymph nodes.  The only way to know for sure would be via a biopsy.  If the node has been enlarged for an extended period of time (i.e. several months), you can discuss this option with your personal physician.

More likely however, would be the possibility of any infection - which would be the more common cause of an enlarged lymph node.  

Regarding the jaw clicking, one consideration would be TMJ syndrome.  This possibility can be discussed with your personal physician or in conjunction with an oral surgeon.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
Medical Weblog:
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I have had a little bump underneath my right armpit when i woke up the other day. It hurt the first day but not really anymore, i think the swelling has gone down a bit and I don't know how i got it. I do shave my armpits and it happend a few days after i shaved my armpits. I showed my brother and he saw a little rash where the bump was. I don't know how i got it though.
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I took my son to the doctor today with a swollen left gland (left side).  We are unsure what he was exposed to, inasmuch as his friend still hasn't received a diagnosis.  First they said he had strep . . . he didn't.  Then they said scarlet fever . . . again, he didn't.  Then they said mono . . . nope, not that either.  But his symptoms first appeared a couple of days ago.  The doctor said it was strep, even though his test came back negative (she said it "smelled like" strep).  Anyway, has anyone else had these same symptoms?  Thanks.
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A related discussion, swollen neck gland -left side at base of neck was started.
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A related discussion, Swollen gland was started.
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