Swollen Lymph Nodes

Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)
Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)

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:

  • Groin
  • Armpit
  • 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:

Immune or autoimmune disorders that can causelymphadenopathy are:

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.