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What causes swollen lymph nodes in the neck?

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Quick Answer

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck are often caused by viral and bacterial infections such as the common cold and strep throat, according to Healthgrades. The condition can also be a symptom of serious diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and Hodgkin lymphoma. If not associated with a cold or similar minor viral infection, those with swollen lymph nodes should consult with their doctor for diagnosis and treatment, as some causes of swollen lymph nodes can be life-threatening.

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What causes swollen lymph nodes in the neck?
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Full Answer

The common cold is a viral infection that is spread through air droplets released when sick people cough, sneeze or blow their nose, explains MedlinePlus. Symptoms of the virus usually affect the nose and may include a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and a scratchy throat.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that commonly causes symptoms such as sore throat, sudden fever, headache and difficulty swallowing, notes Healthline. If left untreated, strep throat can lead to serious complications including sinusitis, rheumatic fever, scarlet fever and peritonsillar abscess.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints and causes symptoms such as pain, swelling and stiffness, according to Healthline. The condition occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing joint damage when the joint cartilage erodes.

Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymph tissues, notes MedlinePlus. Risk factors for the cancer include past infection of the Epstein-Barr virus and HIV. Common symptoms of the cancer include loss of appetite, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Other symptoms, such as skin flushing and pain in the lymph nodes after alcohol consumption, can also occur.

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