Overview Of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are present throughout your body. They are an important part of your immune system. Lymph nodes help your body recognize and fight germs, infections, and other foreign substances. The term “swollen glands” refers to the enlargement of one or more lymph nodes. The medical name for swollen lymph nodes is lymphadenopathy.
In a child, a node is considered enlarged if it is more than 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) wide.
Common areas where the lymph nodes can be felt (with the fingers) include:
- Neck (there is a chain of lymph nodes on either side of the front of the neck, both sides of the neck, and down each side of the back of the neck)
- Under the jaw and chin
- Behind the ears
- On the back of the head
Commonly Associated With
Swollen glands; Glands – swollen; Lymph nodes – enlarged; Lymphadenopathy
Causes Of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Infections are the most common cause oflymphadenopathy. Infections that can cause them to include:
- Abscessed or impacted tooth
- Ear infection
- Colds, flu, and other infections
- Swelling (inflammation) of gums (gingivitis)
- Mouth sores
- Sexually transmitted illness (STI)
- Skin infections
Immune or autoimmune disorders that can causelymphadenopathy are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Cancers that can cause enlarged lymph nodes include:
Certain medicines can cause swollen lymph nodes, including:
- Seizure medicines such as phenytoin
- Typhoid immunization
- Which lymph nodes are swollen depends on the cause and the body parts involved. Enlarged lymph nodes that appear suddenly and are painful are usually due to injury or infection. Slow, painless swelling may be due to cancer or a tumor.
Exams & Tests
Your provider will perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history and symptoms.
Examples of questions that may be asked include:
- When the swelling began
- If the swelling came on suddenly
- Whether any nodes are painful when pressed
The following tests may be done:
- Blood tests, including liver function tests, kidney function tests, and CBC with differential
- Lymph node biopsy
- Chest x-ray
- Liver-spleen scan
Treatment Of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Treatment depends on the cause of the swollen nodes.