Lump on Left Side of Neck - Causes

Lump On Left Side Of Neck

Having lumps in any part of the body can cause a lot of panic to an individual, as many people relate this to cancer. Fortunately, most lumps that appear on the neck are not dangerous. This however doesn’t mean that they should be ignored; you would do better discussing the matter with your doctor.

Causes of lump on left side of neck


Branchial cleft cyst

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If the patient has had the swelling since birth, it might be due to failure of some neck tissues to disintegrate during fetal development. In many mammals, a tissue known as branchial cleft cyst usually degenerates during early development stages, since it is not useful to these organisms. Some humans however retain it, and as they grow, it fills up with a fluid and pushes against the skin, which makes its outline visible.

Branchial cleft cyst is not dangerous on its own. However, it is susceptible to infections, as its fluid content may provide breeding grounds for pathogens. Normally, doctors will not recommend removal unless the cleft has infections.

Sebaceous cyst

Sebaceous cysts are swellings on the skin caused by either infection of glands under the skin or deposition of excess keratin in the epidermis. While this is mostly common in the ear, arm, scalp, and back region, it is also possible for the swelling to happen in the neck.

Thyroglossal cyst

During the formation of thyroid glands at the embryonic phase, extra tissues and cells may form in the throat and fail to degenerate as growth proceeds. The tissues may then start filling up with fluid, thereby increasing the size of the throat. This may happen either at childhood or when one is grown up.

HIV and TB infections

Swollen neck may serve as early signs of infection by HIV, or Tuberculosis, or both. The swelling occurs due to increased activity of the lymphatic system as it tries to fight infections. A few people may experience pain, but this is not always the case.

The symptoms also may be accompanied by coughing, sore throat, and production of green or yellowish phlegm.Only a medical examination however will tell whether you are suffering from these conditions or not.


Also known as the kissing disease, mononucleosis is a viral infection that is primarily spread through kissing. Its main symptom is swelling in the neck, which may be accompanied by throat soreness and fatigue.

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Young children and adolescents are more likely to suffer from this condition than adults. As one gets more exposed to the virus that causes this condition, their bodies develop immunity against it, such that by the time they reach adulthood, they will have become immune to it.

Dental infections

Dental problems may lead to swelling in the neck. Bacteria that affect the gums may move down to the throat and cause the lymph nodes to swell.


Tumors growing in the throat may also produce visible swelling. Most of the times, cancerous tumors do not cause pain or discomfort at their early stages. As their growth accelerates however, coughing and difficulties in swallowing may become common.



If you have a lump in the left side of the neck or anywhere else in your skin, make it a priority to understand what is causing it. As indicated earlier, common swellings are not always dangerous; but the fact that their external symptoms are almost always similar to those of dangerous conditions, ignoring them would not be a wise decision.

Different conditions that cause swelling of the throat require different tests. During the initial stages of diagnosis, the doctor will use your previous records to classify your situation before recommending the tests to be done. Thyroid scans and blood tests are the most commonly used tests. In case cancer is suspected, small tissue samples from the throat may be checked under the microscope for confirmation.

During diagnosis, ensure that you provide as much information as possible. If you have throat pain, itching or any problems with swallowing, it is good to have the practitioner record these. Also, check your phlegm to see if there are red or black specks inside.



For congenital swellings arising from branchial cleft and thyroglossal cysts, it is preferable not to interfere with them unless they acquire infections. The neck region is susceptible to bacteria; hence, surgeries should only be done on it when very necessary.

Most infections of the thyroid can be done away with using prescriptions. If you tend to experience frequent problems with your throat even after complete treatments, this might be a sign that your body’s defense is not strong enough. Eating balanced diet and exercising regularly can provide a good boost to the immune system.

Frequent attack of the throat by lumps may also signal the presence of HIV. Whatever the cause, remember that seeking early medical intervention can assist to eliminate further complications.

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