Will poor oral hygeine and improper diet contribute to swollen lymph nodes on neck with sore throat?

Q. I have swollen lymph nodes on neck and tonsil with sore throat. Please help.

Answered by
Dr. Muhammad Zubayer Alam
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on May 29, 2020 and last reviewed on: Sep 16, 2023

Hello doctor,

Recently (the last week at the most) my lymph nodes in my neck have been very swollen. When looking at the back of my throat, I can see small tonsil stones, small, but many. There is swelling which I am hoping is associated with the stones and there is a lot of swelling at the top of my right tonsil. The right side of my tonsil definitely is sore but fluctuates throughout the day. I have used tobacco, tobacco-products fairly consistently for the last two years, smoking at most a cigarette per day, and vaping. There are also flesh-colored bumps on the back of my mouth on the left side, they are not painful though.

There is one on the top and one down by the tongue. I have not noticed these previously. My depression sometimes affects my hygiene, so I am hoping that this could be the cause of the stones. I have been brushing twice a day, flossing, gargling with salt water, and mouth wash. Since doing this, I have noticed much less swelling in my lymph nodes and a little less in my tonsils. My diet also has not been the healthiest lately (eating about one meal a day) and my sleep schedule has been a wreck. I am just really hoping it is not cancer but I have yet to go see a doctor.



Welcome to icliniq.com.

I can understand your concern. According to your statement, you have been suffering from swelling of lymph nodes on the neck with swelling of tonsil and sore throat. You lead an erratic life. You are a smoker. You do not maintain your oral hygiene regularly. You also do not take your meal regularly. Your presenting clinical features can result from strep throat, peritonsillar abscess, tonsilloliths (tonsil stone), tonsillitis, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or carcinoma, etc.

According to your picture that is provided here you may suffer from tonsil stone or peritonsillar abscess. In both cases, treatment are almost the same. You should take a broad-spectrum antibiotic for 7-10 days with gargle with salt mixed warm water, mouth wash, apple cider vinegar, and brush regularly.

Usually tonsil stones dislodge themselves over time. If the clinical features such as difficulty in deglutition, difficulty in breathing, breathing difficulty during sleeping, pain radiating to ear, etc., occur consider as a medical emergency and consult with an ENT specialist for tonsillectomy.

You should observe your lymph nodes carefully. Any sudden change in size or shape of lymph node, high fever, weight loss, night sweating, persistent fatigue, respiratory distress, etc., should be considered as alarming signs for carcinoma. So do not be worried. Take balanced food and maintain oral hygiene strictly.

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