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Have enlarged lymph nodes near ears, neck, collar bone. Taken Bactrim for cellulitis. Need for concern?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 1773 Questions
About 5 weeks ago, I was treated for cellulitis on my left knee. Initially I was given dycloxicillan and the MD thought I was having a reaction, so quickly switched me to Sulfa/Bactrim. On the 6th day of taking the new antibiotic, 7/1/13, I noticed 2 small lumps behind my ears, 1 on each side. The next morning my neck was very stiff and painful and I had lumps at the base of my skull and all over both sides of my neck, all of them seeming to be the size of marbles. I was also suffering from thick post nasal drip and was certain it was my seasonal allergies. I had also ran out of my allergy medication and hadnt taken it for 2 days. By 7/4/13 I had broke out in a rash all over my body, nothing raised, just red splotches every where. Friday 7/5/13 was my last dose of Bactrim/Sulfa, I was on a 10 day course. By Sunday 7/7/13 the lymph nodes had started to decrease and by 7/23 all had completly gone away except for 1 on the left side in front of my ear, 1 low on the left side of my neck towards the back and 1 at the base of my neck towards the traps about 2 inches above my collar bone, if I am standing looking straight ahead. I have been completely freaked out by this. The node above the collar bone is of particular concern. Im not sure if it is a supraclavicular node. I have seen the MD and she said they are all about the size of a pea, maybe smaller. Is this something I should be concerned with. I am so afraid of cancer. Just lokking for some advice.
Posted Fri, 16 Aug 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 3 hours later

I hope, I can help answer your questions.

Overall, you seem to be concerned about the lymph nodes. Any time you have an infection you can have enlarged lymph nodes...usually in the area of the infection. However, if you have a severe infection you can have a systemic inflammatory response that can cause inflammation and hence enlargement of lymph nodes elsewhere.

I would keep an eye on the lymph nodes, if they don't go away in the next couple of weeks your doctor may want to biopsy one of the easily accessible lymph nodes.

I hope this has answered your questions. Let me know if you have any further questions.
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Follow-up: Have enlarged lymph nodes near ears, neck, collar bone. Taken Bactrim for cellulitis. Need for concern? 20 minutes later
I knkw without seeing me you can not give a diagnoses. However, I guess my question is, should I be concerned with cancer? Do some lymph node tend to stay enlarhed long after the infection has been treated. I did have some CBCs and white blood coints with differential completed and at one point my Eosinophils were elevated to 14 but since then have dropped to normal range. Also, my Monos were at 10, still within normal, but one MD said it was consistent with a viral infection. Do size of lynph node swelling show any indication of what might be going on. Basically since the lymph node above the colar bone is palpable does that mean I may have something serious going on regardless of the fact the is highly mobile and a bit squishy?
Thank you
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 9 minutes later

I doubt it would turn out to be cancer. The clinical scenario isn't consistent with cancer. Lymph nodes can take awhile to go back to normal size...and sometimes they don't go back to their normal size.

I wouldn't be worried about it.

To quell your nerves...if it hasn't gone away in about two weeks, your family doctor can numb up the area over your clavicle and do a simple needle aspiration. This will give you the answer.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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