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Lump under left side of jaw...

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I understand that I should just go see a doctor, but I wanted to see if I could get multiple inputs as to what may be going on. Rather than rely on one guy who I haven't even picked out of a provider list yet. I'll keep it as short as possible.

I'll start with the fact that I've smoked for 15 years, which probably already answers my ultimate question. I’ve tried quitting 6 times in the last year but haven’t had a cigarette in more than a week. I’m using Walgreens generic nicotine lozenges, 4 mg. They seem to be working.

About a year ago I started noticing the taste of blood in my mouth. I would go to spit and there blood would be. Sometimes more blood than others, and not gobs of blood itself, but I would describe it as anywhere from crimson to golden colored spit, depending on the amount of blood. Around the same time I noticed a firm lump under my jaw. My left lower wisdom tooth had given me some pain periodically, but nothing that sent me into a panic. It would sometimes be sore for no more than the better part of a day, then the pain would subside. Since it had started growing in my late teens/early 20s it had given me this kind of trouble every few months or so. It had only come in about half way so I assumed it would need to come out eventually. I’ve also suffered from a mild case of clickety clack in my jaw, which I’ve learned is probably TMJ, though it’s never given me enough of a problem to worry about it.

I went to a family friend who is a PA. He took a look, concentrating mostly on what was causing the bloody sputum. He did X-rays, which showed the lump under my jaw as sort of a green glob. I asked about it as it was on the screen and a nurse who was present said it was probably a swollen lymph node due to the sideways wisdom tooth which was probably causing the bloody spit. Just an infection and the tooth was probably going to need to come out soon. I was given antibiotics of some sort and sent on my way.

After about a week of taking the antibiotics, things seemed to clear up. No blood in the spit, no real detectable lump. That I can remember. I assumed that the lump was a lymph node and was only concerned about the bloody spit. I didn’t really spend much time inspecting for the lump. I assumed it was just an infection and that it had cleared up. However, I was given a two-week regiment with the antibiotics but quit taking them due to stomach upset. I figured since it seemed to have cleared up, I was good.

About three months ago I not only noticed that the lump was again present, but felt very distinct pressure around the area in my neck, just below the jaw. Especially when turning my head. And again with the bloody spit. Time to get the tooth out.

I had the tooth removed about a month ago. I asked the guy how rotten and decayed it looked, assuming it must have looked like a nightmare. He said it didn’t really look that bad at all. This gave me pause. Two weeks after the extraction I went back because there was still some pain and swelling. Doctor looked at it, said it would clear up and sent me on my way.

For the sake of wrapping this up: tooth wound is healed, pain and swelling is mostly gone…lump remains and seems to have gotten a little bigger. I can even kind of feel a pressure and the unmistakable sensation of fluid in my left ear. Today, cleared my throat, tasted the copper, went to spit…more blood.

Cancer? Infection? Hypochondria?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
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