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An abnormal swelling in the neck can be symptom of various problems. While it can be something as non-threatening as a swollen gland due to a cold that can be cured with simple medication, a swollen neck can also turn out to be a cancerous lump in the neck. When faced with an irregular swelling in the neck, it is best to not panic or jump to conclusions until you consult with an Ear-Nose-Throat Specialist. The possible problems that a swelling in the neck can indicate are:
- Swelling or enlargement of the salivary glands: The salivary glands may become enlarged due to an infection or due to foreign materials getting stuck in them. While foreign objects or formation of stones in the salivary glands might require surgical removal, they can often be dissolved with medication and other non-invasive treatments. And infection in the salivary glands is often treated with antibiotics or other medication. These treatments can be prescribed and administered by ENT Specialists.
- Thyroid disease: The thyroid gland may swell up and cause a swelling of the neck. These are often called goiters in colloquial language and are a result of thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. They usually require a series of medication and treatment and are not considered an ENT problem despite the swelling of the neck.
- Benign cysts: Benign cysts can form in any part of the neck or in the glands, much like it can form in any part of the body. An ENT Specialist can prescribe a surgical removal of the cyst lest it turns cancerous later in life. It should also be removed in case it grows or relocates, going on to cause other problems.
- Lumps in the muscles: Lumps in the neck muscles are formed by injury or torticollis. These usually aren’t considered ENT problems and can be treated by general physicians and sometimes chiropractors.
- Cancerous cysts or growths: One of the most daunting problems posed by a swelling of the neck is the possibility of cancer. While thyroid cancers as well as cancerous growths in the salivary glands are slow to develop, a swelling in the neck should immediately be investigated by an ENT Specialist in order to rule out all possibilities.