What You Should Know If You Feel A Lump On Your Neck
It may be surprising and upsetting when you discover a lump on your neck that you havent previously noticed. The good news is that neck lumps are common and most often harmless. They can come in different sizes and textures, and theyre usually non-cancerous.
But there are a few types of lumps that could be a sign of a more serious condition, and you cant detect these through simple home evaluations.
Visiting an ear, nose, and throat specialist such as those on our team at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates is always a good idea if you notice a neck mass. Chances are good you have nothing to worry about, and as with many health issues, early detection and medical treatment leads to the best prognosis.
Today we discuss a few of the more common causes of neck masses, but if you have any questions or concerns, call to make an appointment with Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates at one of our three locations.
Checking Lymph Nodes For Swelling
If your lymph nodes are swollen, you can often feel them by pressing lightly and circling your three middle fingers in these places:
- Behind the ears and under the jawline
- On both sides of the back of your neck
- From the middle of your armpit to the side of your breast
- Along the crease where the thigh meets the pelvis
Only a healthcare provider can determine if your neck lump is a swollen lymph node or something else.
Can Hpv Cause Cobblestone Throat
Many people with cobblestone throat worry that the bumps are cancerous lumps or signs of an HPV infection that may become throat cancer. But cobblestone throat isnt related to high-risk strains of HPV or throat cancer.
With cobblestone throat, HPV and oral cancer, you may have a sore throat. But neither an oral HPV infection nor throat cancer produces the characteristic bumps associated with cobblestone throat. Youre more likely to notice a lump in your neck or a red or white patch in your throat if you have a high-risk strain of HPV. Often, HPV doesnt produce any symptoms.
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Could It Be Something Else
It sure could! If you dont know whats ailing you, then let the experts at GoHealth Urgent Care help with your diagnosis.
Were here seven days a week, 365 days a year, and you can walk in or save your spot online.
See our prices on co-pays and same-day visits, with and without insurance.
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How Is Cobblestone Throat Treated
You can get rid of cobblestone throat by eliminating whats causing inflammation and postnasal drip. Often, your immune system can cure viral and bacterial infections on its own. If not, your healthcare provider can recommend or prescribe medications that can help.
You can treat cobblestone throat by:
- Taking antibioticsto help clear some bacterial infections.
- Avoiding allergens that are triggering your bodys immune system.
- Using over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays, non-drowsy antihistamines and decongestants to thin the excess mucus irritating your throat.
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Types Of Throat Cancer
Three types of cancer can occur in your pharynx, which is the upper area of your swallowing tube:
- Nasopharyngeal cancer occurs in the area from the back of your nose down to the back of your mouth.
- Oropharyngeal cancer can occur in the back of your mouth, tonsils, soft palate, or on the back of your tongue. This is the most common type of throat cancer.
- Hypopharyngeal cancer can occur from the lower back of your throat down to your voice box, called your larynx.
Your larynx is the firm area in the middle of your throat, where your Adams apple is felt. The larynx is the structure where your vocal cords are located. Your larynx also acts as a valve to channel food and drink into your swallowing tube instead of into your lungs. There are three types of laryngeal cancer:
- Supraglottic laryngeal cancer occurs above your vocal cords
- Glottic laryngeal cancer occurs on your vocal cords
- Subglottic laryngeal cancer occurs below your vocal cords
Most throat cancers start in cells that line of the surface of your throat. These cells are called squamous cells, therefore most types of throat cancer are squamous cell cancers.
What Causes A Lump In The Throat
The good news is that many causes of a lump in the throat are not dangerous, although they can be uncomfortable. Common causes include irritation from throat clearing, excessive mucus due to allergies, and tightness in the throat caused by stress and muscle tension. Other common causes include laryngopharyngeal reflux and globus pharyngeus, which creates a feeling of a lump with no underyling cause.
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What Could A Lump In The Throat Be
Globus sensation by itself is not harmful and can happen without an underlying cause or associated illness. In fact, the exact cause of globus sensation is unknown. That said, there are other health conditions associated with the feeling of a lump in the throat.
When you see your healthcare provider, they will check you for potential causes of your symptoms, including:
Esophageal motility disorders occur when muscles of the esophagus dont contract normally. This makes it harder for the esophagus to get food and liquid into the stomach. Along with GERD, esophageal motility disorders are the most common condition seen in people with globus sensation.
Esophageal sphincter dysfunction occurs when there is a problem with the muscular ring found in the upper or lower esophagus. When these muscles work well, they prevent food and liquid in the stomach from coming back up. Globus sensation has been linked to abnormal upper esophageal sphincter function, but the research has not been consistent.
Other conditions that have been associated with globus sensation include:
Inflammation in the mouth or throat
Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
Mass at the base of the tongue
Is Cobblestone Throat Contagious
Cobblestone throat isnt contagious, but it may result from a contagious condition. For example, you can pass along a viral infection causing your throat irritation, like the flu, or a bacterial infection, like strep throat. Both viruses and bacteria are contagious and can lead to cobblestone throat. Other causes, like allergies or acid reflux, arent contagious. It depends.
The person who contracted the infection may or may not develop cobblestone throat, even if they got the germ from someone who does have it. It depends on each persons immune response and how irritated their throat gets.
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Salivary Gland Cancer Symptoms
Salivary glands make saliva and release it into the mouth. There are three major salivary glands:
- Sublingual glands
- Submandibular glands
Symptoms for this type of cancer may include:
- Painless lump in your ear, cheek, jaw, lip or inside of the mouth
- Fluid draining from your ear
- Trouble swallowing or opening mouth wide
- Numbness or weakness in your face
- Persistent pain in your face
Seeing An Ent Specialist
If youre unsure of your symptoms and would like a clear diagnosis, make an appointment with a doctor. They may refer you to an otolaryngologist, or an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
This doctor will examine your mouth, nose, and throat. They will pass a flexible, ultrathin telescope with a light through your nose to see inside your sinuses and down into your throat
This examination may not confirm a globus sensation diagnosis. What it can do is offer another explanation for your symptoms. For example, if acid reflux is suspected, additional testing may be done to confirm that diagnosis.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Laryngeal Cancer
The following are the most common symptoms of laryngeal cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
A cough that does not go away
A sore throat that does not go away
Feeling of a lump in the throat
Hoarseness or voice change
Ear pain that does not go away
A lump in the neck
Unplanned weight loss
The symptoms of laryngeal cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Swelling On Just One Side Of The Throat Is Usually An Infection
One of the peculiar things about tonsil infections is that they sometimes affect just one tonsil. When there is persistent swelling and tenderness on just one side of the throat, the first possibility that comes to mind is tonsilitis.
Tonsillitis is an infection most commonly caused by an especially aggressive bacterium known as Streptococcus pyogenes. This bacterium hides itself from your immune system by breaking down your red blood cells and using proteins from them to build a shell. Your immune system detects red blood cells and leaves the bacteria free to multiply.
Inside this purple or black blood clot, the strep bacteria begin to expand. Your tonsil begins to swell. It can become so large you have trouble breathing. You may have to breathe through your mouth, rather than through your nose. This exposes the lining of your mouth and your gums to air, and dries them out. Tiny cracks and crevices form, harboring bad breath bacteria. You may start speaking with a “hot potato voice,” and if the infection continues, you may develop trismus, or “locked” jaws.
- Klug TE. Incidence and microbiology of peritonsillar abscess: the influence of season, age, and gender. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2014 Jan 29.
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What Causes Cobblestone Throat That Doesnt Hurt
A sore throat often but not always accompanies cobblestone throat. The usual causes may be to blame even if your throat doesnt hurt . Its also possible that the raised tissue in your throat is a sign of another condition. If your bumps dont disappear within a week or two, see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It can be alarming to notice the bumps associated with cobblestone throat when you look in the mirror, but dont worry. Think of the bumps as a sign that your immune system is doing what its supposed to do fighting invaders like germs and allergens. The bumps often disappear within a few weeks along with other common signs like a sore throat. In the meantime, home remedies like gargling saltwater, honey, humidifiers and cough drops can help manage symptoms.
Sore Throat On Left Side But Now Found A Lump On Right Side
I have had a sore throat since last May. For the first few months my sore throat felt like a lump when I swallowed most of the time, and was in the middle of my throat. Then around November time the lump feeling moved to the left side of my throat, and I started getting pain in my left ear. I have been to the doctors numerous times about this, and have been diagosed with thrush, globus sensation, tonsilitis, etc, etc, and given about 7 different courses of treatment, none of which worked. I also took a blood test which came back clear.
Tonight though, I have found a lump on the RIGHT side of my neck which I am really worried about. Tonight I had my first manual shave since around September last year. I had been using an electrical shaver up until tonight but it broke so I had to take a manual shave. Anyway, when taking this shave I felt a lump on the right side when brining the shaver down my neck to do my beard. I had never noticed this before when I was manually shaving last year, but like I say, this is the first time I have done a manual shave since September last year, so I’m obviously worried that this lump has grown since then. The lump basically feels like an adams apple, but on the right side and it moves when I swallow. I’ve never had a promonant adams apple but this feels just like it. I’m sure though that it isn’t my adams apple though because firsty it wouldn’t be on the right side, and secondly I’m sure that it wasn’t as prominent last September.
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What Causes Globus Sensation
Once upon a time, this condition was called globus hystericus, because doctors as far back as Hippocrates thought that people who experienced it were hysterical.
Doctors now understand more about the causes of globus sensation, which can be both psychological and physical, and that the symptoms are very real.
The most common causes of globus pharyngeus are anxiety and gastroesophageal reflux disease , a form of acid reflux that causes the stomachs contents to travel back up the food pipe and sometimes into the throat.
This can result in muscle spasms that trigger feelings of an object caught in the throat.
Other causes include:
- Minor inflammation in the throat or at the back of the mouth
- Psychological health issues or mood changes
- Swallowing disorders
Signs And Symptoms Of Globus
Different people describe it differently. It may be felt as:
- tightness or a pressure in your throat
- catarrh/mucus that you are unable to clear
- an area of discomfort in your throat
- a feeling of something stuck or a lump in your throat
If you feel something sticking in your throat, but can eat and drink normally and without pain, you do not need to worry. Many people with globus sensation notice the symptoms most when they are swallowing their saliva, or that it increases with stress and worry. Your symptoms can vary from day to day.
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Lumps At The Back Of The Neck
The location on the neck may also give you a clue about a lumps underlying cause.
When you lump occurring around the hairline at the back of your neck, its likely connected to a hair follicle or sebaceous gland problem. Most of these lumps have pimple-like qualities. Ingrown hairs are commonly a problem at sites where you regularly remove hair, such as the nape of your neck, perhaps. These can also occur under the chin for men.
Boils are also common at the hairline, particularly if the area is subjected to lots of friction and sweat, such as from an item of athletic clothing. Larger bumps could be sebaceous cysts, which can grow to large sizes when left untreated.
Lumps along the sides of the neck may be enlarged lymph nodes, the most common source of neck lumps. Usually, these accompany nearby infections, from colds or throat infections most often, but the lymph nodes can be directly infected themselves or enlarged due to infections elsewhere in the body. While cancer can cause enlarged lymph nodes, this is much less common than lumps resulting from infection.
Treating the infection causing the enlarged lymph nodes will typically make the lumps disappear. Time and warm compresses can also help if your lump is due to having a cold.
Once again, if youre worried about a lump, contact Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center. Our team of experts can rule out or treat any serious causes of unusual neck lumps.
Nasal And Sinus Cancer
Nasal and sinus cancer affects the nasal cavity and the sinuses .
- a persistent blocked nose, which usually only affects 1 side
- a decreased sense of smell
- mucus running from the nose or down the throat
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Lumps Requiring A Closer Look
Cancerous lumps are typically hard and often pain-free in the early stages, starting up deeper in the body. Lumps that are associated with growths or sores in your mouth are also worrisome, as is any lump accompanying throat problems, such as hoarseness or trouble swallowing. Generally, any lump thats painless is more ominous than those accompanied by pain.
Could It Be Cancer
However, cancer of the mouth and throat typically occurs in those who have risk factors such as use of tobacco products , heavy alcohol use, or a history of radiation exposure.
In some cases, however, you can get cancer without risk factors.
Its important to seek medical attention if you have a sore in your mouth that wont heal a sensation of something stuck in your throat or fevers, night sweats, or weight loss.
A GoHealth Urgent Care provider can evaluate you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist through our connected system.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk
Consider the following tips to prevent cobblestone throat:
- Identify and avoid substances that cause your allergies to flare.
- Dont smoke, vape or expose yourself to secondhand smoke.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, exercise, adequate sleep and little stress.
- Take steps to avoid bacterial and viral infections, like avoiding physical contact with sick people, masking or social distancing as needed, and washing your hands frequently.
When Should You See A Doctor
Its a good idea to see your healthcare provider if the feeling of the lump in your throat is persistent or happens with other symptoms, including:
Unexplained weight loss
Any of the above in addition to globus sensation increases the concern that your symptoms could be from cancer. Its important to have it checked to be sure, and to get peace of mind.
Your healthcare provider will discuss your symptoms with you and do an exam to check your neck, thyroid, mouth, and throat. Your primary care provider can make an initial assessment, but you may also need to see a specialist. A gastroenterologist can help if a problem with the esophagus is suspected. An ENT specialist can check the throat and voice box.
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