Many people around the world experience lumps and lesions on their necks. Not only are they uncomfortable and painful, but they can also be a sign of a worse problem. If you see or feel an unexplainable growth and are unsure what to do, here’s an overview of painful neck mass symptoms, causes, and what doctor to see for lumps in the neck.
What Are the Neck Mass Symptoms?
The most common and easy-to-identify neck mass symptoms are discomforting lumps. Their composition and characteristics can vary greatly, being big or small and tender or hard. Any lumps in your neck that last longer than more than two weeks are signs you need to see a doctor. Even lumps that have reduced in size and haven’t gone away should still be taken care of.
There are numerous other neck mass symptoms, including unexplained weight loss. Additionally, other nearby regions of your body can be impacted by the presence of a lump or lesion. If you believe you have a painful mass in the neck or surrounding areas, look out for these common symptoms:
A neck mass can alter your voice box for a few weeks and create persistent hoarseness, as well as cause swallowing problems when eating. It may also make it more difficult to breathe, which would require airway obstruction treatments to correct.
Several symptoms can take place within your mouth, including swollen tongues and growths. If you notice blood or phlegm in your saliva, then contact a doctor quickly.
Breathing difficulties can also occur in the nasal passages which can be caused by a blockage.
Constant pain in one of your ears that won’t go away is another potential symptom of a growth if there is a neck mass on the same side. Should this occur, you may have trouble hearing. Call a professional hearing specialist for assistance.
Has the skin in a certain area changed color? It’s possible that a growing mass is the culprit.
What Are the Causes of Painful Neck Masses?
Many different tissues, muscles, and glands make up your head and neck region, and any one of them can be the source of your painful neck mass. Therefore, there are numerous causes for any unnatural growth you may experience. To help you identify the source of the lumps, these are some of those potential causes:
It is possible for lymph nodes in the neck to expand. They’re a part of the immune system and grow in size when your body fights an infection. This means that when the infection goes away, the nodes will go back to normal. Other parts of your neck may enlarge in response to certain stimuli. For example, injuries to your muscles can result in lumps. The salivary glands, which are responsible for producing saliva, can grow after contracting mumps. Diseases are the cause of several other enlargements, including thyroid gland growth.
Viral and Bacterial Infections
Have you recently had strep throat? Then it could be the source of your painful neck lumps. Many viruses, bacteria, and the illnesses they create can promote the growth of lesions and bumps. Ear, sinus, and dental infections are all potential causes, as is tonsillitis. Consequently, reactive adenitis, a reaction to bacterial and viral infections in the back of the mouth, is an incredibly common cause of masses in younger individuals.
HIV and some forms of herpes are other potential causes of neck masses. If an infection was what caused your lump, then it should go away when it ends. However, there are some bacteria that can spur the creation of masses and growths. The human papillomavirus (HPV) can increase the risk of developing oral cancer, which is another notable source of masses.
Head and Neck Cancers
Cancer can also be the origin of painful neck masses. Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the common cancers that leads to the formation of growths, as are leukemia, thyroid cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and many others. When these tumors are malignant, they can spread to other parts of the body. However, benign tumors will not expand to surrounding regions. Instead, they can still harm you by creating pressure on the head and neck or damaging the nerves in those areas.
There are several common causes of cancers in the head and neck. A large percentage of them result from tobacco and alcohol use. Exposure to radiation can also lead to cancer and, in turn, painful neck masses.
What Doctor Should I See for Lumps in Necks, and When?
When the mass in your head and neck hasn’t gone away after two weeks, or you aren’t sure how long the lump has been there, then you should see a professional immediately. The best doctor for the diagnosis and treatment is an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Detecting cancerous growths early on increases the chances of a successful treatment, meaning you’ll want to consult a professional as soon as possible.
If you live in Bucks or Montgomery County, Philadelphia, or other areas in Pennsylvania and are searching for an ENT specialist, contact Dr. Goldberg today. He and his team have more than 50 years of experience treating painful neck lumps. Reach out to Dr. Goldberg for more information and to schedule your appointment.