Inflamed lymph nodes — causes, symptoms, when to see a doctor

Enlarged lymph nodes — although an unpleas­ant phe­nom­e­non, it is not always dan­ger­ous, but you should not ignore it. Why do lymph nodes become inflamed and sore?

swollen lymph nodes

Pho­to: Freepik


Lymph nodes are part of the lym­phat­ic sys­tem. They are locat­ed in strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant areas of the body — on the folds of the arms and legs, on the neck, under the jaw, in the chest and abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty. Lymph nodes per­form a very impor­tant task in the body. These are a kind of bio­log­i­cal “road­blocks”. They trap virus­es, bac­te­ria and oth­er for­eign agents. And lym­pho­cytes — immune cells that are pro­duced in the lymph nodes — destroy them. Why do lymph nodes become inflamed and what to do about it?

Causes of enlarged lymph nodes

The main cause of swollen lymph nodes (lym­phadenopa­thy) is infec­tion. Most often, with a mas­sive attack of virus­es or bac­te­ria, the lymph nodes become inflamed, “serv­ing” the area where the infec­tious process has devel­oped.

Their increase and sore­ness in this case is not yet a cause for con­cern. When the body copes with the infec­tion, the lymph nodes will return to their nor­mal size. But, alas, there are more seri­ous caus­es of lym­phadenopa­thy.

Why are the lymph nodes in the neck inflamed

In the neck, lymph nodes become inflamed most often, and there are sev­er­al rea­sons why this can hap­pen. In some cas­es, it is worth calm­ing down, and in oth­ers, going direct­ly to the doc­tor. Also, inflam­ma­tion of the lymph nodes accom­pa­nies some dis­eases.

This is why the lymph nodes in the neck become inflamed:

  • SARS, res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­eases;
  • inflam­ma­tion in the sinus­es, nasophar­ynx;
  • den­tal prob­lems — caries, pul­pi­tis;
  • com­mon infec­tions — chick­en­pox, measles, for exam­ple;
  • skin inflam­ma­tion;
  • oti­tis

In addi­tion, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck can sym­bol­ize a tumor lesion of the lym­phat­ic sys­tem, mechan­i­cal dam­age to the lymph node itself.

inflammation of the lymph nodes

Pho­to: Freepik

In rare cas­es, the lymph nodes in the neck increase due to:

  • thy­roid dis­ease;
  • meta­bol­ic dis­or­ders;
  • alco­holism, drug addic­tion;
  • severe aller­gic reac­tion.

In very rare cas­es, those who are unlucky enough to face the active growth of a wis­dom tooth can com­plain about an enlarged lymph node. Espe­cial­ly if it does not grow at all where we would like.

Why lymph nodes become inflamed: other areas

  • With an intesti­nal infec­tion, the lymph nodes become inflamed in the abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty.
  • And with inflam­ma­to­ry dis­eases of the gen­i­touri­nary sys­tem — in the groin.

All this is a nor­mal reac­tion of the immune sys­tem, which is try­ing to local­ize the infec­tion. But if the heal­ing process is delayed or there is pain in the area of ​​the lymph node, you need to see a doc­tor.

cat scratch disease

skin scratch disease

Pho­to: Unsplash

Often, inflam­ma­tion of the lymph nodes (espe­cial­ly in chil­dren) caus­es “cat scratch dis­ease” — feli­nosis. It devel­ops if the body gets the bac­teri­um Bar­tonel­la, which lives in the mouth and on the claws of cats.

When bit­ten or scratched, the pathogen enters the blood­stream. A small spot with a red rim appears at the site of the scratch. Over time, it turns into a vial filled with liq­uid, and the lymph node clos­est to the wound increas­es.

Most often, inflam­ma­tion goes away on its own. But some­times, with a weak­ened immune sys­tem, antibi­otics pre­scribed by a doc­tor may be need­ed.

There is no need to treat a cat for feli­nosis. Bar­tonel­la is not dan­ger­ous for ani­mals.

Inflamed lymph nodes: when to go to the doctor

If the lymph nodes are enlarged, the first reac­tion is to go to the Inter­net and read a lot of hor­ror sto­ries on the forms. Do not rush to get scared and diag­nose your­self — most often the lymph nodes increase, sig­nal­ing var­i­ous health prob­lems, of which only a small per­cent­age are ter­ri­ble dis­eases.

Usu­al­ly the lymph nodes become inflamed and are accom­pa­nied by oth­er symp­toms of infec­tion that you will def­i­nite­ly feel. For exam­ple — a sore throat plus an inflamed lymph node, a toothache plus an inflamed lymph node.

It is advis­able to con­sult a doc­tor if:

  • you feel gen­er­al weak­ness, malaise;
  • increased tem­per­a­ture;
  • headache, throat, ear, teeth;
  • run­ny nose, stuffy nose.

It is also rec­om­mend­ed to be con­cerned if the lymph nodes are inflamed for no rea­son. It is worth con­sult­ing a doc­tor and under­go­ing an exam­i­na­tion for sys­temic inflam­ma­tion. For no appar­ent rea­son, the lymph nodes become inflamed with oncol­o­gy, autoim­mune dis­eases.

swollen lymph nodes photo


Urgently see a doctor: dangerous symptoms of inflammation of the lymph nodes

If inflam­ma­tion of the lymph nodes in a heap with symp­toms of a cold is a com­mon thing and goes away when the sore pass­es, then these symp­toms can­not be ignored.

You should run to the doc­tor if:

  • the skin above the lymph node is red, hot, pul­sa­tion is felt inside;
  • inflam­ma­tion of the lymph nodes not only on the neck;
  • lymph nodes do not move when pressed;
  • fever, sweat­ing, weight loss are added to the inflam­ma­tion of the lymph nodes;
  • inflam­ma­tion of the lymph nodes makes it dif­fi­cult to swal­low and breathe;
  • lymph nodes are enlarged for more than two weeks.

Women should be con­cerned if the lymph node is great­ly enlarged in the armpit: this may indi­cate tumors in the breast.

What to do if the lymph node is enlarged

Many try to some­how alle­vi­ate the con­di­tion, if the con­di­tion is very annoy­ing. Here are some quick tips that will tell you what to do if the lymph node is enlarged:

  • ensure peace and relax­ation for your­self, you don’t have to go to work, do the clean­ing and run to the gym, even if you real­ly want to;
  • take painkillers, but only on the rec­om­men­da­tion of a doc­tor;
  • moist­en a cot­ton pad in warm water, wring it out and put it on your neck (it can hurt if the lymph node fes­ter).

But in gen­er­al, an increase in the lymph node sig­nals that some­thing is wrong in the body. Treat the dis­ease, not the symp­toms, and be healthy!

The opin­ion of the edi­tors may not coin­cide with the opin­ion of the author of the arti­cle.

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