5 Year Old with Constant Swollen Lymph Nodes in Neck

Updated on May 21, 2007
J.C. asks from Starkville, MS
10 answers

My daughter just turned 5 and I'd say for at least the last year she has had the lymph nodes in the back of her ears swollen. She fusses if you touch them but on an everyday basis she does not complain or anything. I have brought it up to the pediatrician several times and she has seemed to just shrug it off, but they are always swollen, never goes away. Should I be concerned? She is not showing any other symptoms on a regular basis. Only the occasional illness like cold or stomach bug. Should I take her to an ENT Specialist?

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So What Happened?

Well there is only one pediatric practice in my town the next closest is 40 minutes away. There is more than one pediatrician in this office and I have requested an appointment with a different Dr. We've seen him before when mine was out and the kids were sick and I needed to take them in. Since they have been swollen without going down for over a year and she has taken several rounds of antibiotics, I am worried. I looked it up on a couple web sites and they all say if it is stiff and over 1/4 inch (hers is about 1/2 inch on one side and at least an inch on the other)a biopsy should be done. I am going to ask because if it is something serious I want it caught ASAP and if it is not serious having that piece of mind will help. Her appointment is on June 15 so I will update when I know something.

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answers from Biloxi on

The lymph nodes normall swell when the body is fighting off and infection or virus. Do they swell right before she gets the cold or stomach virus? The doctor may shrug it off because of that fact BUT you need to ask for an explanation. You as the parent are entitled to that.

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answers from Nashville on

J., Absolutely there is every reason to have this checked out by a specailist. I am a RN and from working in this field for some time and from personal experience I will tell you that when it comes to the medical community - trust your gut and persist and insist that someone listen to you and respond! Our little one had to have tubes put in his ears and I very highly recommend Dr Mitchell Schwabber ENT. He is fantastic and great with the kids. I don't have his number in front of me but he works out of Centennial and St Thomas in Nashville. I can't encourage you enough to get this looked after. D.



answers from Nashville on

I'm no doctor but if it concerns you your pediatrician should address your concerns. If she doesn't, go somewhere else, whether it be an ENT or another doctor/pediatrician.



answers from Huntsville on

My daughter had swollen lymph nodes for about a month or so when she was around 2. The doctor told us that basically, if the swollen nodes are in a "chain" like a pearl necklace, there is cause for concern. Also, if a child's lymph nodes are swollen, the doctor said that there is a chance they will never shrink back down to "pre-swollen" size.

My daughter's did shrink, but still are on the big side. They were so swollen that you could see them while changing her diaper (they were in her groin area).

Hope this helps.....


PS- I just re-read this and she must have been about 18 months, because she was potty training at 2.



answers from Birmingham on

My son has the same problem, I've taken him to 2 diff pediatricians who both think that it's "no big deal". If you find anything out about this, please let me know. My son doesn't seem to be to worried about this, it doesn't hurt or anything, so I just don't know what to do. After 2 doctors, Anyway, best wishes, and good luck, let me know how it goes!



answers from Memphis on

I would definitely take her in & get a second opinion! Put your mind at ease......



answers from Kansas City on

I wrote this response before I read your update so maybe this still may help, but good luck and best wishes. I hope your daughter feels better and all is resolved soon.

My sister's baby has been having a lot of ear trouble lately and she decided to take her to the chiropractor. Before she even told the dr. about her ear trouble, he found it immediately. He adjusted her and also massaged the area around her ears. He explained to my sister how to better help her in the future when this happens.

So, you may want to consider taking her to a chiropractor first - It's completely safe for kids of all ages. I went to the chipropractor all during my pregnancy and I still continue to go & I've taken my daughter several times too. Her adjustments have helped her in many ways.

A visit to the chiropractor would be beneficial for her in any case and it would also be cheaper than her seeing a specialist BUT on the other hand, she may need to see a different doctor for a 2nd opinion b/c it may be an infection -- the lymph nodes are connected to sinus infections or something like that, I think.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions or if I can be of further help.



answers from Chattanooga on

I would take her to another doctor. She needs to be put on antibiotics to make sure it's not an infection somewhere causing this. If it still doesn't going away, she'll have to have it biopsied.
I've went through it with two of my children, twice with the oldest one. It is a scary thing to deal with, those 'what if's" will drive you crazy but you need to know one way or another what is causing this. You can't get treatment for something you don't know you have.
I wish you both the best of luck and I will keep her in my prayers.



answers from Florence on

I found this information on the web and thought it might be useful:

Lymphadenitis is swelling in the lymph nodes. It usually presents as one or more enlarged or swollen lymph nodes under the neck, in the armpits, or in the groin. Lymphadenitis is relatively common, and most often indicates presence of bacterial or viral infection. Fungal and parasitic infection can also result in lymphadenitis. Very occasionally, a lymph node may also be swollen as a result of cancerous cells invading the node. This is less common but may be tested if all other symptoms are ruled out.

The most common symptoms of lymphadenitis are swelling of one or more lymph nodes. Lymph nodes that are swollen may feel slightly hardened, and may be painful when touched. The skin covering the lymph node can sometimes feel hot to the touch or may appear slightly red.

A swollen lymph node usually means a doctor will want to look for the cause, especially if lymphadenitis is painful. Physicians may perform blood tests to screen for infections, and in some cases, may perform a small biopsy of the lymph node. If the suspected cause of lymphadenitis is viral, biopsy is rarely performed. Usually, lymphadenitis only indicates need for a biopsy if cancer is suspected.

Sometimes in children, chronic inflammation of one lymph node occurs and is not associated with discomfort, or heat or redness of the skin. This is actually not uncommon, and unless discomfort is present, doctors usually diagnose this as viral and do not treat it. Recent studies into the disease cat scratch fever do suggest it may be responsible for most incidences of chronic lymphadenitis in children. Since bacteria cause cat scratch fever, antibiotics can resolve the lymphadenitis.

Normal treatment for lymphadenitis of bacterial origin is a course of antibiotics. In all cases, physicians treat underlying causes when possible. You can also relieve minor discomfort from swollen lymph nodes by taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen.

A more serious form of lymphadenitis is lymphangitis, which almost always indicates the presence of bacterial infection. Its symptoms include high fever, red streaks around the swollen lymph node, throbbing pain in the lymph nodes, and flulike symptoms like lack of appetite, fatigue, and aching muscles. Lymphangitis is most associated with strep and staph bacterial infections. Cellulitis, infection of the blood, is a quite common cause. Since lymphangitis is often bacterial, a physician should promptly assess these symptoms.

Even with antibiotic treatment, it can take several months for lymph nodes to return to normal. Some people exhibit almost constant symptoms of lymphadenitis, which do not resolve, despite treatment. This can be especially true of people with compromised immune systems. Those with autoimmune disorders or with HIV are likely to experience chronic lymphadenitis. Some children, because of constant exposure to viruses,



answers from Montgomery on

You said your pediatrician shrugs it off. FIND A NEW PEDIATRICIAN. Honestly, mothers almost always have a gut feeling when something is wrong. Do not let a doctor shrug it off without any kind of testing. Believe me, I went through a lot with my daughter's first pediatrician, and when I left her and found a good one, I have stuck with him. He never shrugs off my concerns, and always listens intently.

If the doctor doesn't even want to check to see if something is wrong, then what happens if it turned out to be something really serious, even life-threatening, suing the doctor later isn't going to help your child.

Take her to a new doctor, please. Tell the new doctor your concerns, and mention that the previous doctor shrugged it off or didn't listen, and you may get better attention, because the new doctor may want you to feel like he or she is really paying attention to your concerns.

Good luck, and take care.