Neck Swelling

Any swelling on the neck causes concern. Yet most swellings aren't serious. Follow this chart if you have any swelling or lumps on your neck.

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Do you have lumps or swelling on both sides of your neck?

  • Do you have a fever, sore throat, cold or flu symptoms?

  • Are the lumps getting larger, or have they been on your neck for longer than two weeks?

  • Do you have swelling in the back of your neck on one or both sides?

  • Do you have a skin infection or rash on your scalp?

  • Do you have a rash on your face or a fever?

  • Do you have swelling behind and over your jaw on one or both sides?

  • Do you have swelling underneath your chin or directly in the middle of your neck?

  • Is there a soft swelling on the front of your neck above and between the collarbones?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    This may be an ENLARGED LYMPH NODE caused by an infection of STREPMONONUCLEOSIS or simple SORE THROAT.


    Self Care

    If the sore throat is severe, or if you also have stomach pain, a red rash, fever or white patches on the back of your throat, call your doctor right away. Treat less severe symptoms with over-the-counter cold and flu medicines. These include decongestants, antihistamines and analgesics, such as acetaminophen. If the lumps don’t shrink within two weeks, or if one becomes very large and tender, see your doctor as soon as possible.


  • Diagnosis

    The lumps may be INFECTED LYMPH NODES or possibly CANCEROUS LYMPH NODES, such as in HODGKIN’S DISEASE.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    These swellings are probably lymph nodes reacting to the SKIN INFECTION.


    Self Care

    Treat the skin infection with a topical antibiotic ointment. If the lymph nodes do not shrink in two to three weeks, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a viral illness or, rarely, GERMAN MEASLES (RUBELLA).


    Self Care

    If you have a facial rash, see your doctor right away. Treat the fever with over-the-counter fever medicine, such as acetaminophen, until you can see your doctor. Stay away from pregnant women. German measles can harm unborn children and cause complications, such as pneumonia.


  • Diagnosis

    This type of swelling may be from MUMPS, a disease caused by a virus that attacks the salivary glands.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a THYROGLOSSAL DUCT cyst or abscess, a problem with your THYROID GLAND.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have an ENLARGED THYROID, a GOITER or THYROIDITIS, also called HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE, an inflammation of the thyroid gland. This may also be a sign of THYROID CANCER or other THYROID DISEASES.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.