Lymph nodes harbor white blood cells, which are the cells that help your body fight infection. Lymph nodes may become inflamed and swollen in response to an infection somewhere in your body. Inflammation of the lymph nodes is called lymphadenitis.
Lymph node inflammation is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever and sore throat.
Although it’s rare, lymph nodes can swell due to cancer, particularly lymphoma and leukemia.
Symptoms that may appear along with lymph node inflammation
Lymph node inflammation is usually accompanied by other symptoms, which depend on the underlying cause. These symptoms may include the following:
- swelling and redness around the lymph nodes that are close to the skin;
- unusual hardening or tenderness of the lymph nodes;
- sore throat;
- limb swelling.
Possible causes of lymphadenitis
Lymphadenitis is most commonly caused by an infection. Types of infection that may cause lymphadenitis include, but are not limited to, the following:
- viral respiratory tract infections, such as the flu or common cold;
- infectious mononucleosis (commonly caused by Epstein-Barr virus);
- bacterial infections, such as staphylococcal and streptococcal infections;
- cat scratch disease (bartonella);
- parasitic and fungal infections.
Lymph node enlargement and inflammation may be caused by lymphoma and other cancers, but this is very unlikely.
Treatment of lymphadenitis
Your treatment will depend on the underlying cause of lymphadenitis, your age, overall health, and the duration of the infection. In some cases, no treatment is needed. That includes infections that have already started to subside (in generally healthy adults) and certain infections in children, as lymph node inflammation is a common response to many infections in this age group.
In general, treatment of lymphadenitis may involve the following:
- antibiotics, if your lymphadenitis is caused by a bacterial infection;
- painkillers (usually NSAIDs) to ease the pain and reduce the fever;
- applying cool compresses to the affected lymph node;
- surgery to drain the pus if the lymph node itself has become infected.
In addition to following the prescribed treatment, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids to make your condition improve faster.
If lymphadenitis is caused by cancer, treatment may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery to remove the tumor, or a combination of these treatments.
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.
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