Swelling and pain in the lymph nodes can be problematic if it affects your movements. Pictures of swollen lymph nodes are likely to show a bump in an otherwise smooth area. You need to know if that bump is a swelling of glands. Know when to wait and when to get help.
What Are Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes are part of a parallel circulatory system of your body, the lymphatic system. This system contributes to the immunity of the body. These lymph nodes are scattered throughout the body, connected via lymph vessels.
Some of them form regional clusters. And they would represent the drainage of a particular area. It means lymph nodes present under the jawline or on the sides of the neck are connected to the mouth, ear, and respiratory system. Whereas the lymph glands in the groin form the drainage of the lower abdomen, pubic parts and even legs.
Lymph nodes are usually not very noticeable until they have swelling. The nodes contain lymphocytes which are immune cells. Whenever these cells detect invaders in the fluid system, they capture these ‘enemies’ and destroy them.
In this process, they too get destroyed. The body is forced to produce new fighter cells in these areas. It causes swelling. Thus, swelling indicates infection in the body.
When Should You See Your Doctor if You Have Swollen Lymph Nodes?
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You might wonder when you should see your doctor if you have swollen lymph nodes.
Well, it depends.
Lymph nodes are small organs that are part of the immune system. They help to fight off infections and other diseases by producing antibodies. When we’re sick with something like the flu or a cold, our lymph nodes will swell up to help fight the infection. But sometimes, this can happen without a known reason—and then it’s essential to see your doctor.
If you notice any changes in your lymph nodes, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. Lymph nodes can get bigger or smaller. And if they persist for more than two weeks, it is best to seek medical attention. They will likely perform some tests and take some blood samples to make sure everything is okay!
Would the Doctor Need Pictures of Swollen Lymph Nodes?
A swollen lymph node would look like a small bump at a place where there was nothing before. These may vary in size from small pea size to that of a grape. It may feel tender to touch and even painful.
Your doctor will touch and identify your swelling. They will not need pictures of swollen lymph nodes in the areas where they are easily visible. These areas are:
- The groin
- The armpits
- Around the neck
- Under the chin
- Behind the ears
Beyond these, swellings on other glands, such as around the head or at the collar bone’s base, are not so prominent. In that case, your doctor may advise further examinations. These would include blood tests and pathological pictures of swollen lymph nodes. These tests include X-rays, USG, CT scans and MRI scans.
These image tests, blood tests, and related symptoms help the medical expert identify the problem. They may suggest lymph node biopsy if they see fit.
Other symptoms accompanying swollen glands that you must inform your doctor about are:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Night sweats
- Pain in the swollen gland
- Any other medical history
- Hard, fixed or fast-growing nodes
- Node-swellings all over the body
- Swellings continued for a few weeks
- Pus in the swelling
- Colour change in the swelling
- Sudden weight loss
- Swelling in lymph nodes of armpits or groin without any other symptoms
What are the Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes?
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Various factors or conditions can make your lymph nodes swell. Let us look at them.
Viral, Bacterial and Parasitic Infections:
- Common cold
- Teeth and gum infections
- Sinus problems
- Strep throat
- Staph infections
- Fungal infections
There are serious infections that will lead to quick swellings in the glands.
- Lyme disease
- Cat scratch disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Metastasised cancer
- Hodgkin disease
- Kaposi sarcoma
- Genetic lipid storage disease
- Transplant/graft rejection
- Injury in the lower limbs
Can You Treat Nodules at Home?
Yes. You can treat swollen lymph nodes at home. Swollen lymph nodes, or lymphadenopathy, are a common sign of infection. It’s also a sign of inflammation in the body. In most cases, they’re not serious and will go away on their own within two to four weeks.
You can treat swollen lymph nodes at home by:
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen) to relieve soreness
- Eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to boost your immune system. It also reduce inflammation
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Getting plenty of sleep, so your body has time to heal overnight
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What Medical Treatments Can Help?
Swollen lymph nodes are a common ailment, and several treatments can help you.
If you have swollen lymph nodes, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will examine your lymph nodes and determine whether they are swollen. They may recommend treatment with steroids, such as prednisone. Or they’ll recommend antibiotics if they are.
Also, your doctor may prescribe medications that reduce swelling in general. An example of this is ibuprofen. The doctor may also advise you to drink plenty of fluids. And also get plenty of rest while your body heals itself naturally over time.
The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is an infection caused by bacteria or viruses. These include influenza or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Other causes include cancerous tumours or blood clots in the body’s veins due to injury or surgery. But, these cases are rarer than those caused by infection.
It’s important to note that some causes cannot be easily identified without further testing. For instance, if your immune system has been weakened due to chemotherapy treatments, then swollen lymph nodes could show something more severe like cancerous tumours growing inside them. This would need further investigation).
Cancerous Lymph Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes are a common sign of cancer. There are many different types of cancer, and each can cause swollen lymph nodes in other body parts.
Two types of cancer often cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin. These are Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Leukaemia and lymphoma can also cause swollen lymph nodes throughout the body.
Cancerous lymph nodes are often enlarged and may feel hard or rubbery. They may also be tender to the touch. If you have swollen lymph nodes accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, night sweats, or weight loss, see a doctor immediately.
Swollen lymph nodes that are caused by cancer usually require treatment. with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome.
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Updates by Pheona Ilagan
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