What is a Submental Lymph Nodes?
Submental lymph node is one of the lymph nodes in the body located in the neck just below the chin. Submental lymph nodes are located in the inner digastrics and serve the following regions:
- The teeth
- Some salivary glands (submental)
- The lower lip
- The Mouth floor
- The tongue tip
- The cheek skin
Alternate names for Submental Lymph Nodes
Other names used to refer to submental lymph nodes include submental lymph glands and submental cervical nodes.
Submental Lymph Nodes Functions
The submental lymph nodes drain all debris and waste substances from the teeth, the lower lip, the mouth floor and other regions of the oral cavity. These nodes work in groups in serving their drainage function. Their debris and waste substances flow through submandular lymph nodes and the deep cervical part in the cricoids cartilage.
Submental lymph cells are contained in capsule-like fibers. Some are located just beneath the skin while others lie deep in the body. Just like other lymph nodes, submental lymph nodes play an important role in the immune system. Their function is to filter lymph substances and defend the body against infection by pathogens.
Submental Lymph Node size and shape
Normal submental lymph nodes are 1 cm in diameter. They are small and round in shape. Certain submental lymph nodes found in the chin are noticeable while others are not. Approximately, there are 500 lymph nodes that carry out the various functions.
Picture 1 – Submental Lymph Node
Source – drbentownsend.files.wordpress.com
Role of lymph nodes in immunity
Immune action starts in the lymph nodes and spreads to other parts of the body. Like other lymph nodes, submental lymph nodes play a vital role in the normal function of the body’s immune system. The body defense mechanism involves enlargement of submental lymph nodes to help fight disease-causing microorganisms. It doesn’t matter the seriousness of the medical condition; they help to fight illness and determine the effectiveness of the treatment given to a person.
Lymphocytes are white blood cells present in all lymph nodes including the submental lymph nodes. These cells help the body’s immune system by fighting the disease-causing micro organisms. They also drain all waste substances and debris. When they reach full action, they may enlarge resulting in swelling. This may be as a result of more cells to fight the pathogens.
Submental lymph nodes are vital in protecting the body against:
- Infection by bacteria
- Infection by viruses
- Cancerous substances
- Other disease caused by microorganisms.
Lymph Node Diaseases
Two major lymph node diseases affect the body. These are:
- Localized Lymphadenopathy: This affects only one portion like the neck as a result of swelling of submental lymph nodes.
- Generalized lymphadenopathy affects many portions of the body.
A swelling of submental lymph nodes may denote a disease. However, there is little back up information to show that a certain size denotes an infection or disease. Diagnosis cannot be based on their size. However, if you feel swelling at the neck region, it is necessary to seek medical attention from a qualified professional doctor. Finding an appropriate cure for this condition will require thorough knowledge of the cause of the condition.
Submental Lymph Node enlargement causes
Generally, swelling comes as a result of their involvement in fighting pathogens. The main cause of submental lymph nodes enlargement is infection.
Infection could be as a result of bacteria, parasites, viruses or parasites. Some of the common infections that can cause swelling of sublimental lymph nodes include mononucleosis syndromes, toxoplasmosis, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and dental complications such as periodontitis.
Conditions related to Submental Lymph Nodes
The following complications are related to submental lymph nodes:
- Wisdom tooth infection
- Oral cancer
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Tooth abscess
- Metastatic cancer
- Infections of the mouth
Symptoms of Submental Lymph Node enlargement
Swollen sublimental lymph nodes may signify an infection. The symptoms of swollen lymph nodes differ in different persons, conditions (location) and the reason for enlargement.
Some people may lack general symptoms but can be found through testing by a doctor. This is referred to as asymptomatic.
Swollen submental lymph nodes are often very soft or tender, warm, and painful. When a submental lymph node swells rapidly, it causes pain as a result of stretching. Sometimes the swelling brought about by their increase in numbers to fight infection, may be less significant than the symptoms of the disease itself.
Some patients experience tooth pain, mouth pain, enlarged lymph nodes, sweating at night, loss of weight, and fever.
Swollen submental lymph nodes that are situated inside the body may have worse consequences than the swelling of those just beneath the neck skin. This is because the ones deep in the body may block normal drainage of lymph fluids. This can greatly affect the immune system.
You should prepare to visit a doctor, if you do not understand the cause of the swelling.
Preparation before consulting a doctor for Submental Lymph Node enlargement
If you are experiencing swollen submental lymph nodes, it is necessary to begin consulting your personal doctor as soon as possible. On visiting the doctor, you may be advised to go for medical examinations immediately in case the symptoms are serious.
Before your appointment with a doctor, be aware of the following points:
- Be sure you are aware of all what you are expected to do.
- Note all the symptoms and problems associated with the condition that you may be experiencing. It is also necessary to note the duration the condition has been affecting you.
- Also note all causes of possible infection that you have been exposed
- Prepare your medical record: These may include other medical problems that may be undergoing and the prescribed drugs.
- Prepare a good set of questions to ask during the appointment.
Swollen Submental Lymph Nodes Diagnosis
Diagnosis of swollen lymph nodes is often difficult. However, proper diagnosis can be easily achieved where the medical past of the affected person is known by the doctor. This should be followed by a very sensitive medical test. Diagnosis of swollen submental lymph nodes that are near the skin surface is done through an examination by qualified medical personnel.
Swollen submental lymph nodes at the front and back of the neck can be noticed by touching.
Swollen lymph nodes sitting deep in the body can be diagnosed by carrying out a CT-scan of the affected body regions.
Doctors can diagnose swollen submental lymph nodes and tell the cause of the swelling through different characteristics that they observe. For instance, the submental lymph nodes many be classified according to the size, shape, tenderness, firmness, and the feel. Those features are then important in predicting the possible cause of the swelling. For instance, hardness of submental lymph nodes may be associated with leukemia, while other features such as their movement could suggest an infection or disease.
In summary, for successful diagnosis of swollen submental lymph nodes, the doctor should be aware of:
- Your past medical record: Moreover, the doctor needs to have adequate information on when and where swelling of the submental lymph nodes began.
- Physical test: The doctor will have to carry out a thorough physical examination of the lips and the whole mouth cavity. The doctor will also feel the submental lymph nodes just below the surface of the chin skin for different features such as size, texture, wamth, or hardness.
- Blood tests: A doctor may suspect certain blood related infections as the cause of the swelling. In that case, he can conduct different blood tests to ascertain the actual cause of the condition. For example, a complete blood count may be carried out. This test is used to examine the body for many different health problems such as leukemia.
- X-ray or CT-scan may be carried out. This can be used to determine the cause of the condition as well as know the most affected areas.
Submental Lymph Node enlargement treatment
There are only general treatments for submental lymph node enlargement. For instance, one can treat the infection that causes that swelling.
In case swollen submental lymph nodes is accompanied by sweating, fever and loss of weight, the infection requires complete tests because the symptoms are general for any infection.
It is also important to visit your doctor if submental lymph node enlargement persists long after treatment.
Those who have a medical history of leukemia oral cancer and related infections may need to see a doctor if the swelling of the submental lymph nodes persists.
Submental Lymph Node enlargement home care
In case the swollen submental lymph node areas are painful, try the following home remedies to achieve some relief from pain:
- Apply heat: A piece of clothing put in hot water can be compressed on the affected area for some minutes.
- Take pain killers such as OTCs e.g. aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. Children should never be allowed to take aspirin except under the recommendation of a doctor.
- You should rest enough. Usually rest is necessary to speed up the rate of recovery from submental lymph node enlargement.
Written by Shoummojit
on August 27th, 2011. The article was last updated on August 27th, 2011