Swollen Lymph Nodes and Thyroid Nodules: Causes and Treatments
Almost everyone will experience a swollen lymph node at some point. However, there is a chance that the swelling indicates an issue with your thyroid. Your thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck below the voice box. It produces hormones that drive vital activities for your body like managing its metabolic rate.
Introduction to Lymph Nodes
You may have swollen lymph nodes if you’ve had a cold or infection recently and feel small, soft bumps in your neck. Verywell Health says lymph nodes are small-bean-shaped organs critical to your body’s immune system. Almost everyone will experience a swollen lymph node at some point. Read on to learn more about what lymph nodes in your neck do, how thyroid cancer originates, and how to determine if there’s a problem.
The Function of Lymph Nodes in the Neck
Lymph nodes are part of your body’s lymphatic system. A lymphatic system is a network of vessels and organs that filter outside agents that could harm your body. Lymph nodes can be anywhere from a few millimeters to up to two centers in diameter.
Your body has hundreds of lymph nodes dispersed throughout it. However, they cluster in specific areas like your armpits, neck, and groin. Lymph nodes in your neck are cervical lymph nodes.
Anterior lymph nodes are in the front of your neck. They swell when you have a cold or strep throat. Posterior cervical lymph nodes are in the back of your neck. They swell when you have infectious mononucleosis, or what you may know as “mono.”
Lymph Nodes and Thyroid Cancer Cells
Thyroid cells become cancerous when specific changes in a person’s DNA occur. Sometimes, people inherit these gene changes, but there are outer influences at other times. For example, it may be an environmental factor like radiation or random events.
Approximately 8 out of 10 thyroid cancers are papillary cancers. These cancers develop in one lobe of the thyroid gland. Though this type of thyroid cancer typically grows slowly, it can spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.
A thyroid nodule is an unusual lump or growth in the thyroid gland. A thyroid nodule can be singular or have multiples. Most thyroid nodules are benign. Swollen lymph nodes may be symptomatic of a thyroid nodule.
To protect your thyroid health, it is important to have basic knowledge of thyroid lumps. This includes how they occur, thyroid risk factors, diagnosis and the treatment options available. That way, you will be better able to prevent cancerous thyroids and make informed decisions when it comes to treating these lumps. Learn more on our blog post, “Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer”.
Lymph Node Evaluation and Diagnosis
Swollen lymph nodes don’t automatically mean cancer, so don’t panic. As MedicalNewsToday reports, there are various causes like:
- Common infections include colds, sinus infections, staph infections, tonsillitis, and strep throat.
- More severe infections like chicken pox, tuberculosis, or measles.
- Immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
A lymph node evaluation involves a physical exam where the doctor checks for swollen lymph nodes, irregularities, and other potential symptoms that cause the swelling. They may administer blood tests or imaging tests like an ultrasound or MRI.
Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis
A doctor may recommend a biopsy if swelling lasts for weeks or other danger signs exist. In a biopsy, a doctor will numb the area and extract a small tissue sample to send to a lab. They may also use imaging tests like an ultrasound.
When to Worry About Lymph Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes resulting from a common infection like a cold often go away after two or three weeks. However, it’s time to see a doctor if:
- The issue persists after two or three weeks.
- The lymph node feels hard or rubbery to the touch.
- It’s larger than it should be.
- You experience night sweats, abdominal pain, unprecedented weight loss, or a high fever.
Lymph Node Treatments
If a cold or mild infection causes swollen lymph nodes, you can take care of it independently. Consider an OTC pain medicine like ibuprofen or applying a warm, wet compress to the area. Drink fluids like water and fresh juices and get plenty of rest.
If you see a doctor, find a thyroid nodule specialist. Their treatments may involve observation or medication. They may also administer tests like Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), a minimally invasive technique that shrinks the size of nodules and restores thyroid function.
World Class Care with Swollen Lymph Nodes and Thyroid Issues in Singapore
Ease your pain and worries with a visit to a thyroid specialist in Singapore, Dr. Manish Taneja at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic. He is trained in minimally invasive treatment options for thyroid cancer, nodules, and more. Contact us for more information and to set up an appointment.
The Advantages of RFA of Thyroid Nodules
The major advantages of the technique are as below.
- It is done as day surgery procedure under light sedation.
- It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete the entire procedure.
- Patients are discharged the same day.
- Normal thyroid tissue adjacent to the nodule is preserved.
- It does not affect thyroid function.
- Multiple nodules can be treated at same time.
- The treated nodules do not regrow again.
- No surgical scar with needle mark on the skin.
- Quick recovery and back to full activity and normal lifestyle.
- The technique is suitable to treat even large thyroid nodules.
Find out how thyroid nodule Radiofrequency Ablation can help you in a minimally invasive way on our blog post, “Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment: Diagnosis, Management, and Recovery.”
As a vascular and interventional radiology specialist, Dr Manish Taneja looks after peripheral vascular disease, aneurysms, dialysis interventions, venous diseases like deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins/spider veins/reticular veins. He is also competent in performing newer endovascular procedures such as uterine artery embolization, prostate artery embolization, genicular artery embolization, and erectile dysfunction interventions.
Dr. Manish Taneja also has extensive experience in performing all vascular interventions, non-vascular interventions and interventional oncology procedures.
Read More About Vascular Treatments on Our Blog
To dive deeper into the types of vascular treatments such as thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation, head over to our clinic’s blog. Read our recommended vascular treatments related blog posts to stay informed.
Thyroid Nodule Resources
How to Keep Thyroid Healthy for Optimal Well-Being
As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid hormones must be perfectly balanced at all times for the body to function normally.
Caring For Your Thyroid Health
Have you ever experienced difficulty swallowing or breathing? You may have risk factors including a family history of thyroid nodules or iodine deficiency. Thyroid nodules are abnormal lumps (growths) within the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located below your voice box. Even if most thyroid nodules are benign, 10-15% of nodules are cancerous. Sometimes overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue can lead to hyperthyroidism. In other cases, multiple nodules can form in the thyroid called multinodular goiter. Fluid filled thyroid cysts can be one type of thyroid nodule within the thyroid. More complex nodules may lead to thyroid cancers.
Depending on the root cause and type of nodule you have, patients can monitor with regular ultrasound or even have a thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAC) if required. Surgery to remove partial or whole thyroid gland can be done but thanks to minimally invasive treatments such as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), this procedure can treat noncancerous and cancerous thyroid lumps.
Watch our video guide and find out more on our blog post, “Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer” with the types, causes, evaluation, biopsy, treatment options, and when to see a thyroid specialist. Find answers to questions on whether thyroid nodules are cancerous or not.
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