Swollen Supraclavicular Lymph Nodes: Its Causes And Treatment

The lymph nodes are tiny, bean shaped glands present throughout your body. They make up the lymphatic system which conveys the lymph, nutrients, and waste between body tissues and blood.

The lymphatic system is a vital component of the body’s immune and defense system; the body’s defense mechanism against diseases. The lymph nodes sieve the lymph as it flows through them, and hold on to the viruses, bacteria and other foreign objects, which are then annihilated by the lymphocytes.

Lymph nodes are present in the body singly or in clusters. Their size ranges from that of the head of a pin to an olive. They can be felt in the neck, groin, and underarms. By and large, lymph nodes aren’t painful.

Causes Of Supraclavicular Lymph Node Swelling

Lymph nodes get inflamed when there is some sort of trauma, an infection, or a tumor mass in or near the lymph node. The supraclavicular glands are located above the clavicles, i.e. the collarbone. Etiological factors responsible for the swelling of these glands are:

  • A severe cold and throat infection.
  • A cut, bite or injury near the glands.
  • Infection or a tumor mass in the areas of the neck, lungs, breasts or abdomen.
  • Viral infection such as rubella, chickenpox, measles or mumps is known to inflame and cause a swelling.
  • The EB virus or the Ebstein Barr virus and the CMV or the Cyto Megalo Virus which causes sore throat, fever and fatigue.
  • Bacterial infection like a strep throat or Lyme’s disease, a bacterial infection spread by certain types of ticks, produce swollen tender supraclavicular glands.
  • It is also known to be a side effect of phenytoin, a drug that is used to ward off seizures.
  • It is also a side effect of the MMR measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
  • Malignant cancers, such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are important causes too.
  • HIV infection and AIDS acquired immune deficiency syndrome also results in swelling of the lymph nodes. HIV assails the immune mechanism, making it difficult for the body to battle infections.
  • Sexually transmitted infection, such as syphilis.

Treatment For Swollen Supraclavicular Lymph Nodes

Swollen and painful supraclavicular glands need to be reported immediately to your health care provider. Delay and neglect can result in a host of complications. Your doctor will examine the glands and order a battery of tests and investigations for you to do, in order to ascertain the exact cause of the inflammation.

The treatment regimen for the swollen lymph nodes focuses on treating the cause. Your doctor may adopt one or more of the following regimens to manage your case well.

  • Bacterial infection needs to be treated with appropriate anti-biotic; while viral infections tend to resolve on their own.
  • In case a malignancy is suspected, your health care provider will ask you to do a lymph node biopsy to verify the correct diagnosis. One the diagnosis is made proper treatment for cancer needs to be started immediately.
  • In case of HIV your physician will have to follow a multidisciplinary approach to manage the condition suitably.
  • The lymph nodes may stay swollen or firm for a long time after the initial infection has gone. This is more so in children, whose lymph nodes may reduce in size whilst staying visible and palpable for several weeks.

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