What Causes Swollen Lymph Node Under the Jaw?

Everyone has lymph nodes, which are an important aspect of the lymph system and the immune system in our bodies. The lymph nodes are important to filter out the bacteria and other pathogens in order to enhance our health. There are lymph nodes in every part of the body.

There are lymph nodes you can feel beneath the chin and jaw, which work just like the other lymph nodes of the body. When you have a swollen lymph node under jaw, it means you have an infection or inflammation in the area.

What Causes Swollen Lymph Node Under Jaw?

1.   Infections

There are common and uncommon infections that can cause a swollen lymph node under the jaw. Things like strep throat, a cold tooth abscesses, sores in the mouth, infectious mononucleosis, impacted teeth, mumps, measles, ear infections, rubella, infections of the skin, chickenpox, infected wounds, laryngitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and periodontal diseases are relatively common causes of swollen lymph node under jaw. Rare infections that inflame the lymph nodes include cat or dog bites, tuberculosis, STDs, parasitic infections (from cats), eating undercooked meat, and toxoplasmosis.

2.   Thyroid Problems

You can have a large goiter in your neck because of being low in iodine. It can result in a swelling of the thyroid gland itself as well as a swollen lymph node under the jaw. The treatment is to increase the iodine in the diet.

3.   Medications and Shots

You can have a sore throat and a swollen lymph node under jaw because of medications, such as Dilantin (phenytoin), which is used for people with seizures. Immunizations for typhoid and malaria can also cause swollen lymph nodes.

4.   Immune System Disorders

Conditions such as HIV, lupus of the lungs, rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, leukemia, and other cancers can result in swollen lymph nodes in the body, including the jaw.

5.   Other Causes

There are other reasons why you might have a swollen lymph node in this position. These include tumors of the mouth, diseases of the head and neck, hyperthyroidism, problems with the salivary gland, cysts in the area of the jaw, or lipomas in the area of the jaw.

How to Deal With Swollen Lymph Node Under Jaw

Much of the time, having swollen lymph nodes under the jaw is transitory and the problem resolves spontaneously. The gland can take a while to go away—up to two weeks in some cases. It all depends on the reason why you have the swollen glands in the first place.

When you have a swollen lymph node under the jaw, the doctor can evaluate it by just doing a physical examination that includes palpating the jaw. There may be tests, including liver function studies, kidney function studies, other blood tests, a chest x-ray or other tests. If it is believed something serious is going on, the doctor may do a biopsy of the lymph node to look at under the microscope.

The treatment depends on what is causing the problem.

  • There may be antibiotics given if it has been found that an infection is causing the swollen lymph node under jaw. The antibiotics can resolve the swelling of the glands and can decrease the pain.
  • If the swollen glands are from an immune problem, the doctor will attempt to treat the underlying condition so that the lymph nodes resolve.
  • If the problem is secondary to cancer or some kind of tumor, the doctor may recommend some type of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

If the swollen glands are discovered to be nothing serious, there are things you can try to relieve it. These include the following:

  • Take an over the counter medication for the pain.
  • Gargle with salt water that is lukewarm.
  • Soak a washcloth with warm water and put it on your throat. Lie down somewhere and put a hot water bottle on the area that is swollen. This can lessen the inflammation and help resolve the pain.
  • There are natural remedies you can try, including garlic, cleavers, and Echinacea. They help treat the lymph system problems with cleansing and antibacterial properties. Herbs can also help treat the infection and flush toxin out of your body.

Other Common Lymph Nodes That May Become Swollen

Besides a swollen lymph node under jaw, there are other areas where you might find lymph nodes that are swollen and inflamed. These include the following:

  • Behind the ear. You can have swollen lymph nodes located behind your ear. This can be due to an eye infection called conjunctivitis, a scalp infection, or conditions of the skin, including seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Above the collar bone. You can also have swollen lymph nodes located above the collar bone. This is also referred to as supraclavicular lymphadenopathy. This is an abnormal condition that means you may have a nearby infection or cancer. This can include infection or cancer of lung, breast, or chest. Sometimes, cancers that are more distant, like colon cancer or urogenital cancers, can cause metastasis to the supraclavicular lymph nodes. Very rarely, things like sarcoidosis or tuberculosis can cause swollen lymph nodes to this area.
  • In the underarm. There can be swollen lymph nodes in the axillary area, which is also the underarm area. This usually happens in cases of breast cancer. Doctors will check these lymph nodes when they are staging cases of breast cancer. You can also see swollen lymph nodes of the axilla secondary to some type of trauma to the underarm area.
  • In the groin. It can be normal for young persons to have swollen lymph nodes in the area of the groin. They can also be secondary to having an STD, an infection of the legs, or cancer of the genitalia.
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