What is Lymph Node Swelling? What are the reasons? You can find details on the subject in our article on the subject. Swollen lymph nodes usually occur as a result of infection caused by bacteria or viruses. It is rare for swollen lymph nodes to be caused by cancer.
Our lymph glands, also called lymph nodes, play a vital role in our body's ability to fight infections. They act as filters, catching viruses, bacteria and other causes of disease before they infect other parts of our body. The most common areas where you may notice swollen lymph nodes are; your neck, under your chin, armpits and groin.
In some cases, time and warm compresses may be all you need to treat swollen lymph nodes. If an infection is causing swollen lymph nodes, treatment varies depending on what's causing it.
What Are The Symptoms of Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Our lymph system is a network of organs, vessels and lymph nodes located throughout our body. There are many lymph nodes in your head and neck area. Although the frequently swollen lymph nodes are those in this region, those located in the armpits and groin area are also among the frequently swollen lymph nodes.
Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that something is wrong somewhere in your body. When your lymph nodes first swell, you may notice:
- Tenderness and pain in lymph nodes,
- Swelling in the lymph nodes, which may be the size of a pea or kidney bean, or even larger.
Depending on why your lymph nodes are swollen, other symptoms you may have include:
- Runny nose, sore throat, fever and other symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.
- General swelling of the lymph nodes in your body. If this occurs, it may indicate an infection such as HIV or mononucleosis, or an immune system disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Firm, fixed, rapidly enlarging lymph nodes, indicating possible cancer or lymphoma.
- High fever.
- Night sweats.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Some swollen lymph nodes return to normal when the underlying condition, such as a minor infection, improves. You should see a doctor if you are concerned about this condition or if your swollen lymph nodes are accompanied by:
- If they occur for no apparent reason,
- They continue to grow or have been present for two to four weeks.
- If they feel hard or rubbery or do not move when you press on them,
- If accompanied by persistent fever, night sweats or unexplained weight loss.
If you have difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Why Do Lymph Nodes Swell?
Lymph nodes are small, round or bean-shaped clusters of cells. The inside of the lymph nodes consists of a combination of different types of immune system cells. These special cells filter the lymph fluid circulating in our body and protect us by destroying invaders.
Lymph nodes are found in groups, and each group drains a specific part of the body. You may be more likely to notice swollen lymph nodes in certain areas, such as those in your neck, under your chin, in your armpits, and in your groin. The location of swollen lymph nodes can help determine the underlying cause.
The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is an infection, especially a viral infection such as a cold. Other possible causes of swollen lymph nodes include:
- Streptococcal sore throat
- Ear infections
- Infected (abscessed) tooth
- Skin or wound infections such as cellulitis
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS
- Some sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis
- Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection caused by contact with the feces of an infected cat or by eating undercooked meat.
- Cat scratch fever, which is a bacterial infection caused by a cat scratch or bite.
Immune System Disorders
- Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that targets your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that targets the tissue on the outer surface of your joints (synovium).
- Lymphoma, a cancer that originates in your lymph system
- Leukemia, which is cancer of your body's blood-forming tissue, including your bone marrow and lymphatic system.
- Other cancers that have spread (metastasized) to the lymph nodes
- Other possible but rare causes include certain medications, such as the anti-seizure phenytoin (Dilantin), and medications used to prevent malaria.
What Are The Complications of Swollen Larynx Glands?
If it is an infection that causes swollen lymph nodes and is left untreated, an abscess may form. Abscesses are localized collections of pus caused by infections. Purulent fluid; Contains white blood cells, dead tissue, bacteria or other invaders. An abscess may require drainage and antibiotic treatment.
How Are Swollen Lymph Nodes Diagnosed?
To diagnose what's causing swollen lymph nodes, the doctor may need:
- Your medical history: Your doctor will want to know when and how your lymph nodes swelled and whether you have any other signs or symptoms.
- Physical examination: Your doctor will also examine the lymph nodes near the surface of your skin; will want to check for size, tenderness, temperature, and texture. The location of the swollen lymph nodes and your other signs and symptoms will provide clues to the underlying cause.
- Blood tests: Some blood tests can help confirm or rule out suspected underlying conditions. Specific tests will depend on the suspected cause but most likely include a complete blood count. This test helps evaluate your overall health and detect a number of disorders, including infections and leukemia.
- Imaging studies: Taking a chest X-ray or computed tomography scan of the affected area can help identify potential sources of infection or detect tumors.
- Lymph node biopsy: Your doctor may perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. He or she may take a sample from one lymph node or all lymph nodes for microscopic examination.
How to Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Swollen lymph nodes caused by a virus usually return to normal after the viral infection resolves. Antibiotics are not useful for treating viral infections. Treatment for swollen lymph nodes due to other causes varies depending on the underlying cause.
- Infection: The most common treatment for swollen lymph nodes caused by a bacterial infection is antibiotics. If your swollen lymph nodes are caused by an HIV infection, you need to receive special treatment for this condition:
- Immune system disorder: If your swollen lymph nodes are a result of certain conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, treatment will be directed at the underlying condition.
- Cancer: Swollen lymph nodes caused by cancer require cancer treatment. Treatment depending on the type of cancer; may include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
If your swollen lymph nodes are tender or painful, you may find some relief by doing the following:
- Apply a warm compress: Apply a warm, wet compress, such as a cloth soaked in hot water and wrung out, to the affected area.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever: These include; including aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Although aspirin is approved for use in children over 2 years of age, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never use aspirin. If you are concerned about this, contact your doctor.
- Get enough rest: You often need rest to help you recover from the underlying condition.
What Should I Do Before Going to a Doctoral Appointment?
If you have swollen lymph nodes and are experiencing serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Before your doctor's appointment for swollen lymph nodes, it may help to:
- Find out if you have any restrictions before the appointment. When making an appointment, ask if you need to do anything before you arrive.
- List the symptoms you are experiencing and how long you have had them. Among other symptoms, your doctor may want to know if you have flu-like symptoms, such as fever or sore throat, and may ask if you've noticed a change in your weight. Add to your list the symptoms you have noticed since your lymph nodes began to swell, in order from mild to severe.
- Make a list of possible sources of infection to which you have been exposed recently. These; These may include traveling abroad, hiking in areas known to have ticks, eating undercooked meat, being scratched by a cat, engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, or having sexual intercourse with a new partner.
- Make a list of your important medical information, including any other conditions you are treated for and the names of any medications you take. Include in this list every prescription and over-the-counter medication you use, as well as vitamins and supplements.
- Make a list of all the questions you will ask your doctor.
What to Ask the Doctor About Swollen Lymph Nodes?
For swollen lymph nodes, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What causes my symptoms?
- What are other possible causes of my symptoms?
- What kind of tests do I need?
- What treatment would you recommend?
- How soon will I start feeling better?
- Is this a contagious condition? How can I reduce the risk of infecting others?
- How can I prevent this from happening again in the future?
- If I have other health problems, do I need to change the treatments I use for them?
- Is there an alternative to the medicine you prescribed me?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed materials that I can take with me? Which websites do you recommend for me to get information?
What Can a Doctor Ask About Swollen Lymph Nodes?
When you make an appointment with a specialist about your swollen lymph nodes, your doctor will probably ask you some questions, such as the following. It is important to be prepared for these questions.
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first start experiencing your symptoms?
- Have your affected lymph nodes enlarged over time?
- Are your affected lymph nodes tender?
- Have you had a fever or night sweats?
- Have you lost weight even though you didn't want to?
- Do you have a sore throat or difficulty swallowing?
- Have you had any difficulty breathing?
- Have your bowel habits changed?
- What medications are you currently using?
- Have you recently traveled to another country or to areas where ticks live? Has anyone traveling with you gotten sick?
- Have you had contact with new animals recently? Have you been bitten or scratched by these?
- Have you recently had sexual intercourse with a new partner?
- Do you practice safe sexual intercourse? Have you been doing this since you became sexually active?
- Do you smoke? If so, how long have you been using it?
If you have pain from swollen lymph nodes while you wait for your doctor's appointment, you can try to relieve your discomfort by using warm compresses and an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.