Cervical adenitis is inflammation (swelling) of a lymph node in the neck. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs. They are part of the lymph system and can be found in groups or just one by itself. The lymph system is part of your body's system for fighting infection. The lymph system consists of lymph nodes that store blood cells (lymphocytes) to fight infection and vessels that carry fluid, nutrients, and wastes between your body and your bloodstream.
Another term for this infection is cervical lymphadenitis.
Cervical adenitis is common in children. It is usually caused by a viral upper respiratory illness (URI).
Viruses or bacteria in the nose, tonsils, throat, ears, and skin can spread to the lymph nodes and cause an infection. Bacteria may also spread from an infected tooth or from an infection in another part of the body. Cat scratch disease can cause lymph node swelling. Some cancers can cause cervical adenitis.
Symptoms may include:
Your child may be unwilling to move his neck fully in all directions.
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Lab tests are not done in most children with cervical adenitis.
Your child may have blood tests to look for signs of infection. Your child may have a swab of his throat. If your child’s node is very swollen or he has fever, pain, and difficulty moving his neck, he may need:
Most cases do not need to be treated. Your health care provider may watch your child for changes when lymph nodes are small and not red or sore, and when they have been swollen for less than 2 weeks.
Your child may need antibiotic medicine if the lymph nodes are large, when they are on just one side of your child’s body, or if they are red and sore.
More severe infections may need to be treated with IV antibiotics in the hospital. If the infection becomes an abscess and is full of pus, the infection may need to be opened and drained.
If there is so much swelling that the infection is pressing on your child’s throat or windpipe, your child may need to stay in the hospital until the swelling has gone down.