Viral Cervical Adenitis, No Antibiotics (Child) 

Lymph nodes help the body fight infection. There are lymph nodes in many parts of the body, including the neck. If a virus enters the body through the nose or mouth, it may travel to lymph nodes in the neck. This causes the neck lymph nodes to swell. This is called viral cervical adenitis. It's common in children.

Symptoms of viral cervical adenitis include a swollen neck. It may be painful to the touch. The skin may be warm and red. Your child may have a fever. He or she may be fussy and not want to eat. Your child may have recently had a cold, sore throat, or earache.

Children with viral cervical adenitis may be treated for pain and fever. Viral cervical adenitis will usually go away in a few days to weeks.

Cervical adenitis can also be caused by bacteria or things that aren't infections.

Home care

Your child may be given medicine for pain and fever. Follow all instructions for giving these medicines to your child. Don’t give aspirin to a child younger than age 19. Aspirin use in children younger than 19 has been linked to a serious condition called Reye syndrome.

General care

  • Allow your child plenty of time to rest. Plan quiet activities for a few days.

  • Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids. Contact your child’s healthcare provider if your child refuses to eat or drink, or urinates less often than normal.

  • Check your child’s lymph nodes for changes in size. The healthcare provider may draw around the lymph nodes with a marker to help you see if the swelling changes over time.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Chills

  • Refusal to eat or drink

  • Lymph glands that are swollen and tender for more than 5 days

  • Swelling or redness that doesn’t get better, or gets worse

  • Pain that doesn’t get better, or gets worse

  • Trouble swallowing or breathing

  • Lymph nodes that get bigger, or get softer or harder

  • Swollen lymph nodes that continue on one side of the neck only

  • Pain in the back of the neck over the spine

  • Tiredness or loss of appetite

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