Swollen glands in the neck are commonly lymph nodes that respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, warm compresses and adequate rest, according to Mayo Clinic. The lymph nodes swell when they are fighting an infection, cancer or immune disorders.
Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen help to relieve swollen glands. However, it is important to avoid giving aspirin to children and teens due to its link to Reyes syndrome, according to Mayo Clinic. This syndrome, while rare, affects the blood, liver and brain of children recovering from viral infections.
Warm, moist heat helps relieve the pain of swollen lymph nodes. Mayo Clinic recommends a warm compress with a washcloth dipped in warm water, wrung dry and applied to the skin above the gland.
When the body is fighting an infection, it requires extra rest, according to Mayo Clinic. As the body heals from the infection that causes the swelling, the swelling and pain of the gland subside.
If the swollen lymph nodes are due to a bacterial infection, a doctor often prescribes antibiotics to treat the underlying condition. If it is due to a virus, antibiotics do not help, according to Mayo Clinic. When the swelling is due to an immune disorder, treating the disorder brings relief of the swelling.