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Adolescent Neck Swelling

1.      Should you worry?

There are many causes for a swelling in your neck. It just could be normal as part of growing up or it could be something serious needing your doctor’s attention.

2.      What could it be?

It may be:

  • A normal swelling of the thyroid gland as part of growing up
  • Due to a simple infection in your throat, mouth or ears
  • Something serious like a tumour

Swellings may be in: The middle of your neck. The middle of your neck.

Middle of the neck

The commonest cause is a goiter:

  • This is a swelling of your thyroid gland
  • As you swallow, the swelling will move

Goiter

Most teenagers will notice a swelling of their thyroid gland as they pass through puberty or pregnancy.

  • This is not painful and the swelling is only slightly noticeable
  • It is normal and is called a physiological goiter
  • It will usually reduce as you grow older or after delivery

In some people it may be due to a lack of iodine. Many people with diabetes feel well and only realize they have this illness when they do a blood sugar test.

If you have a goiter, should you worry?

You need to see your doctor if:

  • The swelling continues to grow larger
  • It is painful (thyroiditis)
  • You are losing weight, experience palpitations or feel unusually hot, nervous or sweaty (thyrotoxicosis)
  • You are gaining weight, constipated, feel unusually cold or can’t think fast (hypothyroidism)

Other causes are rare.


Goiter

Side of the neck

Parotid gland:

  • This is below your ear lobe and may reach in front of your ear
  • It functions to produce saliva in your mouth
  • It is normally not noticeable
  • Swellings here will need your doctor’s attention

Lymph nodes:

  • They are found along both sides of your neck from your jaw to your collar-bone
  • They are part of our body’s defense
  • If they are painful and you have a fever, it means you probably have an infection. Your doctor may ask you to take some medicines for this
  • If they remain swollen for more than 2 weeks, see your doctor

3.      Whom should you consult if you are worried?

Your family doctor is the best person to consult. He may:

  • Reassure you
  • Do some tests
  • Provide simple treatment
  • Refer you to another specialist (Surgeon, Physician or Endocrinologist)

Iodine

Iodine is a mineral found in your food. It is important for normal growth. If you don’t take enough of iodine:

  • You could slow your growth
  • Your brain power maybe reduced
  • You could develop a goiter

How do you make sure you have enough iodine in your body?

Iodine can be found in:

  • Sea food
  • Some brands of salt have added iodine (iodized salt)

Some vegetables can reduce iodine entering your body. They are called goitrogens. Don’t take too much of them. Examples are:

  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Tapioca roots and shoots. If you slice them in small pieces and soak in water for an hour, you can reduce the amount of goitrogens

 

Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Kauthaman a/l Mahendran
Reviewer : Dr. Thiyagar Nadarajaw