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Questions And Answers Concerning Your Lymph Nodes!

The body’s lymphatic system is vital to fighting many causes of illness, including bacteria and viruses.  When the lymph nodes are exposed to these germs, they often will swell.  Swollen lymph nodes are often experienced in the neck, under one’s chin, in the armpits and in the groin.  While minor swelling may be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers and warm compresses, more severe cases require treatment of the original cause, diagnosed by a doctor.

What are some common reasons for swollen lymph nodes?

The most common cause is infections.  Common infections that lead to such swelling include:

  • Ear infections
  • HIV
  • Infected tooth
  • Measles
  • Mononucleosis
  • Skin or wound infections
  • Strep throat

Are there other causes as well?

Yes.  Swollen lymph nodes may be caused by some less common infections.  In addition, the swollen node can indicate serious diseases such as problems with the immune system or cancer.

Less common infections include:

  • Cat Scratch Fever
  • STDs, such as syphilis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Metastasized cancers

Disorders of the Immune System:

  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis


  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Metastasized cancers

In addition, certain medications can result in swollen lymph nodes.

What can happen if the swollen lymph node is not treated?

  • Abscesses – They are collections of white blood cells and other materials the body needs to get rid of in fighting an infection.  These materials form pus.  An abscessed lymph node may need to be drained and treated with antibiotics.  If located in a major organ, the abscess can cause damage.
  • Bloodstream infection – As the disease takes over the body, it can lead to sepsis.  This condition is very severe and requires hospitalization.  It can cause organ system to shut down and death.

When should you see a doctor?

Most of the time, swollen lymph nodes heal on their own as the underlying condition, such as minor infections are resolved.  However, an individual should see his or her doctor if concerned about the condition.  In addition, one should see a doctor if:

  • The lymph node appears swollen without an apparent reason
  • The node continues to enlarge
  • The swelling is not resolved within two weeks
  • Lymph nodes feel hard, rubbery or no longer move with pressure
  • Individual experiences night sweats, persistent fever or unexplained loss of weight
  • The condition includes a sore throat or difficulty in breathing or swallowing.


If an individual has concerns about swollen lymph nodes, he or she should consult with a doctor.  Most of the time these conditions resolve on their own once the underlying condition is resolved.  However, the swollen lymph node can indicate a serious health condition.



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