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Why is only one of my neck glands swollen?

There is swelling on just one side of my neck. I think it is one of my glands in my neck. Why would only one of them be swollen? Is it possible it isn't a gland but something else?
Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck is a common reason for people to come to see an ear-nose-and throat surgeon (aka, otolaryngologist). The key to interpreting this swelling is to understand more of the history of the patient. If the node popped up in conjunction with a recent infection of the upper respiratory tract, and the node is tender, then it is quite likely that the node will slowly go away by itself. If, however, the gland is appearing in someone with a long smoking and drinking history, and it is slowly getting bigger or affecting your ability to swallow, it could be a warning of something much more ominous. Another concerning group are those who have had recent significant night sweats, weight loss, and fevers, as these could be a sign of a problem involving many areas of the body. Depending on what you tell your doctor, he or she may recommend a short trial of antibiotics to see if the node goes away. If it persists, he or she may refer you to an ENT for a biopsy or fine needle aspiration of the mass to determine what it is. Regardless of the next step, any persistent bump in your neck should be examined. Please see your doctor.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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