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Swollen and hard lymph node on the back of neck. What could it be?

Nov 2013
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Practicing since : 1994
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Hello there. I am a 31 year old female and I have a lymph node on the back of my neck to the right just above my hairline between my ear and back of my head that has changed.
For about 10years I have noticed it has been enlarged slightly and a few different GP's have told me it is just my lymph node that has not gone back down after some sort of infection. This is fine, however I have just noticed it has enlarged again and is very hard and maybe about the size of a marble. I am unable to move it and it feels a little tender (although that might be from me touching it and pushing it). If I didn't know better I would think it was a boil under my skin waiting to come through. That's what it feels like.

Any ideas on what it could be? I don't think I have any other symptoms apart from dizziness especially when I'm at work and I squat down for a few seconds and then back up I feel very dizzy and sometimes like I am about to pass out. That has been happening for a few months now. I am a mum of two and always active and running around. I work part time at a supermarket stacking shelves at night so my sleep patterns are all over the place and I get extremely tired. I am a non smoker and I only occasionally have a drink of champagne.
I am relatively healthy having lost about 30kgs over the past year. I currently weigh about 74kgs and I am 162cm tall.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Regards, XXXXXXX
Posted Thu, 3 Jan 2013 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 50 minutes later

Thank you for posting your query.

First of all, I wish to reassure you that most likely, you do not have any serious problem.

The commonest cause of enlargement of lymph node could be an infection, mostly a bacterial infection. A course of antibiotics may be used. In cases of infection, the size of lymph node would go down after completing the course of antibiotics.

If it does not decrease in size, then, a lymph node biopsy or FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology) may be done to exclude other causes, mostly a cancer. The fact that this node has been there for 10 years, the chances of it being due to cancer is almost nil.

Weight loss of 30 kg over the past one year! Was it intentional? If yes, there is no need to worry, if not, it requires evaluation too.

I hope it helps. Please get back if you have any more queries.

Wishing you good health,
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Swollen and hard lymph node on the back of neck. What could it be? 4 hours later
Thank you for that.

Yes the weight loss was intentional. I have been going to the gym for a year now to improve my health and well being.

So the fact that it is bigger than usual and tender might mean that its infected?
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 4 hours later
Thank you for getting back.

Yes, the most likely reason for its increased size is infection.

Weight loss is remarkable! Congratulations!

Best wishes,
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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