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3 Diseases That Cause Swollen Necks

 Strep ThroatMumpsDiphtheria
Signs and SymptomsTender, swollen lymph nodes in neck. Fever 102 to 106—worse in evenings. Sore throat, occasionally mild. Red, swollen, sometimes pus-covered tonsils. Abdominal pain, nausea.Swelling of the parotid glands, which are next to the ears. Sometimes only one side is involved. Fever up to 103.Starts with cold symptoms and sore throat. In about 3 days a gray membrane from dead tissue covers the tonsils and entire back of throat. After the gray membrane come the swollen throat and lymph nodes, called a “bull’s neck.” (See photo, page 1.) Fever is usually low-grade.
Incubation*Few hours to 3 days.12–21 days.1–10 days.
TreatmentAntibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalexin, erythromycin, or azithromycin. Take for 10 days. Gargling with warm salty water. Acetaminophen for fever and pain. Rest, fluids (oral). Antibiotics don’t help. Acetaminophen for pain.Antitoxin if available. Also erythromycin or penicillin for 14 days for those infected or exposed. See more here.
Duration of Illness3–7 days. Usually gets better after 48 hours of antibiotics.1–2 weeks.About a week to well over a month.
Most Common ComplicationsEar infection, rheumatic fever, kidney disease.Encephalitis, deafness. If mumps occurs after puberty, there can be painful swelling of one or both testes, ovaries, or breasts. Fetal loss is high in first trimester of pregnancy.Paralysis of throat muscles, permanent heart damage, permanent nerve damage, difficulty breathing. Mortality with full treatment is 5–10 percent (up to 20 percent if under 5 or over 40 years old). With no treatment 50 percent.
How Long ContagiousUp to 3 days before symptoms to a few days after they begin. Or up to 24 hours after starting antibiotics. (Airborne.) 6 days before until 9 days after onset of symptoms. (Airborne.)2–6 weeks after onset or up to 48 hours after antibiotics are begun. (Airborne.)

3 Illnesses That Cause Swollen Necks*Incubation: How long it takes for symptoms to start after you’re exposed to the virus.

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