Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen lymph nodes, referred to as lymphadenopathy, may develop in multiple areas of the body which can include sides of the neck, beneath the chin, behind the ears, under the arms, in the groin, in the abdomen, and less commonly, in the popliteal fossa.

The lymph nodes belong to the lymphatic system which also consists of the thymus gland, spleen, bone marrow, tonsils, and lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic system acts as a partner of the immune system with fighting against infectious substances.

One of the lymph nodes' functions is to filter the lymph from toxic agents and waste matter. They produce white blood cells called lymphocytes which are divided into several types: T cells and B cells. The B cells, of the bone marrow, release antibodies and T cells, of the thymus, help kill off infected cells.

An enlarged lymph node happens in the process of the body combating an illness. A lymph node should have a normal size of a pea. 

Symptoms of swollen lymph nodes 

symptoms of swollen lymph nodes

Symptoms of swollen lymph nodes can vary based on the person. You may feel pain in places where the lymph nodes have been affected. Plus, the skin might even turn red or purple in these areas. The lymph nodes will feel like tender bumps on or underneath the skin.

A sore throat is a common sign of infection in the upper respiratory tract. A few examples of URIs are the common cold and flu.

As URIs can lead to swelling of the lymph nodes, they may cause victims to have a hard time swallowing or even breathing. This may be accompanied by night sweats, coughing, a runny nose, fever, headaches, or other flu-like symptoms.

In addition, those with inflamed lymph nodes could experience a reduced appetite. The decrease in appetite can lead to unwanted weight loss and lack of energy. 

Causes of swollen lymph nodes

There are various causes of swollen lymph nodes. Lymphadenopathy most often occurs due to a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. A broad range of conditions including the HIV, syphilis, tuberculous, measles, toxoplasmosis, and cat scratch fever play a role in the development of lymphadenopathy. Furthermore, skin infections such as impetigo and cellulitis boost the risk for swelling of the lymph nodes.

Several autoimmune illnesses, like systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis, are known to cause lymphadenopathy.

In addition, inflammation of the lymph nodes can be an effect of cancer. Lymphoma, cancer which affects the lymphatic system, is another condition that may cause the lymph nodes to become swollen but doesn't in most patients. Leukemia, cancer of the blood and bone marrow, can also encourage the swelling of lymph nodes.

Breast cancer has additionally been linked to lymphadenopathy. A person with breast cancer might have a portion of their lymph nodes removed as part of the treatment.

Certain drug medications are believed to have a negative impact on the lymph nodes. These medications include:

  • cephalosporins
  • sulindac
  • phenytoin
  • carbamazepine
  • sulfonamides
  • pyrimethamine
  • captopril
  • allopurinol
  • primidone
  • quinidine
  • hydralazine
  • penicillin
  • atenolol
  • gold