Swollen lymph nodes, commonly referred to as swollen glands, are located in various areas of the body. The most common complaint of swollen glands are related to those located on either side of the neck. Inflammation of the neck glands is typically caused by an infection or virus such as a cold. Swollen glands in the neck often accompany a sore throat. A sore throat, formally known as pharyngitis, is generally caused by a virus. Treatment of swollen glands or a sore throat varies according to the identified cause.
Antibiotics are prescribed to treat swollen glands or a sore throat when a diagnosis confirms that inflammation has been caused by a bacterial infection. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics and so they wouldn’t be prescribed for a cold-related irritation in the glands or throat.
Whether the cause is bacterial or viral, a patient’s physician may recommend that a patient take an over-the-counter pain reliever to treat pain and help reduce the inflammation. NSAIDs--non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs--are a commonly available over-the-counter pain reliever that is safe for general use. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are NSAIDs. Aspirin can help to reduce inflammation but should only be taken if the patient’s physician recommends it. Patients should ask their physician what dosages are appropriate, as they can be different than that provided on medication’s package.
It is important to increase fluids to reduce the stress on the glands and throat. If symptoms are being caused by a virus, increasing fluids keeps the body hydrated as it works to fight off the virus. The Mayo Clinic advises that drinking water, juice, warm tea or soup can be helpful when increasing fluid intake. Patients should avoid alcohol and caffeine because they can further irritate the glands and throat and cause dehydration.
Applying warm compresses to the glands near the throat and neck can help reduce soreness. A warm compress can be created by saturating a clean towel with warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and apply the towel to the glands on either side of the neck. Hold for approximately 10 minutes or until the towel cools off. Repeat as often as necessary or until symptoms subside.