What could a swelling gland under my left ear that swells off and on?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have had recent oral surgery (4 wks) and thought it may be due to gum disease. I have been in remission for over a year now with a diagnosis of RA in hands. Take no pharma medications. On last annual physical I told my doctor my concern she felt it and had lab work...but it still worries me. Please advise. Thank YOU

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Lymph nodes are part of the body's immune system. There are hundreds of lymph nodes located throughout the body. Often times, they can become swollen from a cold, ear infection or virus, and it will usually go away within a few days. If they remain swollen for more than a couple weeks, or if the swelling is really firm or hard, it usually means there is a more serious bacterial or viral infection, autoimmune disorder (like RA), or even cancer (such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease).

It is good that you have seen your doctor regarding this lymph node, and that they did some labs to make sure you are OK. If nothing showed on your labs, and the lymph node continues to swell and be a problem, your doctor may want to further investigate the problem. They can do a CT scan of the neck to look for infection or cancer, or even a biopsy of the lymph node itself, to take a sample from the lymph node for microscopic evaluation. This may help give you more answers as to why this gland swells. Good luck!