Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, applying a wet, warm washcloth and getting rest are all ways to reduce swollen lymph nodes in the neck, according to WebMD. The lymph nodes do not swell on their own; they only swell when there is another illness in the body.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Motrin, Advil and Aleve, are best for treating swollen lymph nodes in the neck, states WebMD. The underlying illness causing the swollen lymph nodes should also be treated.
Patients are advised to contact a physician if they experience serious side effects of swollen lymph nodes in the neck, such as a fever greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or night sweats, as stated by WebMD. Patients should also contact a doctor if the skin over the lymph nodes is red or if the lymph node grows larger than an inch. Lymph node swelling that lasts over a month and lymph nodes that are hard or tender should also be looked at by a doctor. Swollen glands may be caused by infections, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer or immune system disorders. They may also develop as a side effect of certain medications.