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Swollen Lymph Node, Ear Pain
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Swollen Lymph Node, Ear Pain

Sorry for posting again, but I’ve been having strange symptoms for 2 months after a sexual encounter & they’ve gotten worse recently. The contact: 1. Licking the shaft of his penis (probably got precum in mouth); 2. Performing manual sex on him with a small day-old cut on my hand that I'm positive came into contact with semen. 3. Being fingered by him (possibly precum on his hand). You said you didn’t see a need for testing, but my symptoms are troubling.  3 weeks after the exposure I started having pain/pressure in my ears. Around then I first noticed an enlarged lymph node in my neck by my throat on one side. It is definitely bigger than a centimeter, at first was hard & immobile, but now it is not as fixed. (It seems to change in size.)  I am having a lot of pain in my ear (& some in my jaw) on that side. Some pain in the other ear too. Yesterday it hurt so badly & was so clogged, I considered going to the hospital.  Slightly better today, but I now have a sore throat, some nausea, pain/tenderness around both ears.  The lump is my neck is uncomfortable, & the discomfort is radiating to my throat, & I feel like I have to swallow all the time. Timeline: 2 days after exposure: got an upper respiratory infection, lasted about a week; 3 days after: eye pain for about a week; 1 week after: groin pain,  off and on for about 2 weeks; 3 weeks after: first started having ear pain, dizziness, fever, & noticed the swollen lymph node. Ear pain has continued off & on since then (now 2 months since exposure). Lymph node is causing discomfort. (Not the flu, I had a flu shot.) I've not sought treatment because I'm terrified of finding out I have HIV. I live in the city with the highest HIV rate. I haven't dated for 2 months for fear of passing an STD. This sounds like an ear infection that is draining through a node in my neck, but could it be an opportunistic infection or otherwise related to an STD/HIV. Even though my exposure didn’t pose much risk, are there ever freak cases?
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I'm sorry that your fears over this exposure continue to trouble you.  My assessment however has not changed.  Your continued difficulties however are still not in any way suggestive of HIV or any other STD and are far, far more likely to be the result of a coincidental respiratory tract infection.

From a medical perspective you do not need an HIV test but from a practical standpoint, you do.  At this time a standard HIV test would provide completely reliable results and being negative (which I am sure will be the case) will allow you to move on and seek evaluation and treatment for your symptoms.  You need to get over your fear of HIV testing.  Testing does not give a person HIV but it does give them the power to know what is going on and whether or not they have the infection.  Most tests are negative (and yours is virtually certain to be) but, if you were so unfortunate as to have HIV, the test would allow you to seek treatment sooner.  There is no reason to delay or avoid HIV testing.

I hope this comment is helpful.  You need to address these fears directly.  EWH
10 Comments
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Thank you so much for your response. I know that testing doesn't give someone HIV, but I'm just really scared, especially as a straight female because I don't think I'd find a partner in the future if I had HIV. I don't usually get sick, let alone stay sick for so long, so this has me really shaken. Can I ask you, with these symptoms, would it be irresponsible to become involved with someone without getting tested first? (If this is the only exposure I've had)
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300980_tn?1194933000
No, it would not be irresponsible to become involved with someone without testing but that does not change that your fear of testing is irrational and, I suspect, will continue to worry you until you get tested. Why not just do it so you can move on. EWH
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Thank you, I understand. I know this will probably be your final answer because I have already asked about this, but I would regret it if I didn't ask again specifically about this. The significantly enlarged lymph node in my neck - you don't think that's likely to be linked to an STD?

Thanks for all of your help.
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300980_tn?1194933000
No, I do not think your enlarged node is linked to an STD.

There will be no further answers.  EWH
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Thank you for your responses. I was hoping you could address one more thing for me. I've found that the swollen lymph node is actually my submandibular gland. I've found a lot on the internet saying that a swollen submandibular gland is a symptom of acute HIV, and now I am quite scared. Would you mind speaking to that briefly? Does it change your assessment of my possible HIV status?
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A swollen submandibular gland does not suggest that you have acquired HIV. You need to stay off the internet as you will be misled their more often than provided with correct information.  EWH
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I am very scared and I won't be able to get to the doctor for at least a couple days. What else could cause a swollen submandibular gland? I've never experienced this before and it seems so coincidental that I would have it after a possible HIV exposure. Do you think my chances of a negative HIV test remain the same?
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Any information on submandibular gland swelling and its relation to HIV/STD's would be greatly appreciated.
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300980_tn?1194933000
Last answer.  Swollen submandibular glands can be due to any number of things including dental or gum disease, a recent sore throat or many other every day infections.  You are worrying unnecessarily.  EWH
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