A lump under the jaw; is a physician needed?

Health Q & A with Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O.

Editor’s note: This information was published in the March 2020 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.

Q: A few days ago, I noticed a lump under my jaw. I think it is an enlarged lymph node, a little smaller than a golf ball. I feel fine and it is not painful. Should this be looked at, and if so, by whom?

A: I think you’re on the right track. The location of the lump you described could be any of the following, in order of incidence:

  • A reactive lymph node responding to a local infectious agent such as a cold virus. These will typically resolve on their own over the course of days to weeks.
  • A blocked salivary gland duct, which is causing the gland (in this case, it sounds like the submandibular gland) to swell. Conservative treatment options may include attempting to stimulate increased flow of saliva fluid to wash out the stone using warm compresses or sour candy, or removal of the stones manually. Surgery is needed if the stone cannot otherwise be removed.
  • An infected lymph node or salivary gland. These often require antibiotic therapy.
  • Cancer of the lymph or salivary gland. Since this is relatively new, I imagine that you can watch this for a few more days in hopes that the swelling will resolve. If it does not, or it worsens, consider the above information and consult a physician, either a family doctor or an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist, or ENT).

Please note: My office requires a one-week turnaround for medical information. If you have an acute or emergency medical incident, please seek immediate medical attention.

If you have a health question for Dr. Jacobson, CHM Medical Director, please email it to doc@chministries.org. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.

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