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SWOLLEN LYMPH NODES
Lymph nodes that frequently swell are in head and neck area, as well as in your armpits and groin area.Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that something is wrong somewhere in your body. When your lymph nodes first swell, you might notice:
Tender and painful lymph nodes
Swollen lymph nodes that may be the size of a pea or kidney bean, or even larger
Depending on the cause of your swollen lymph nodes, other signs and symptoms you might have include:
Runny nose, sore throat, fever and other indications of an upper respiratory infection
General swelling of lymph nodes throughout your body — which may indicate an infection, such as HIV or mononucleosis, or an immune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
Swollen limb, possibly indicating lymph system blockage caused by swelling in a lymph node to far under your skin to feel
Hardened, fixed, rapidly growing nodes, indicating a possible tumor
HOW IS SWOLLEN LYMPH NODES DIAGNOSED?
The doctor will need:
Medical history. In addition, doctor will want to know when and how swollen lymph nodes developed and if you have any other signs or symptoms.
A physical exam. doctor will also want to check lymph nodes near the surface of skin for size, tenderness, warmth and texture. The site of swollen lymph nodes and other signs and symptoms will offer clues to the underlying cause.
Blood tests. Depending on what doctor suspects is causing swollen lymph nodes, certain blood tests may be done to confirm or exclude the suspected underlying condition. The specific tests will depend on the suspected cause, but most likely will include a complete blood count (CBC), which helps evaluate overall health and detect a range of disorders, including infections and leukemia.
Imaging studies. A chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan of the affected area may help determine potential sources of infection or find tumors.
Lymph node biopsy. If doctor can't pin down the diagnosis, it may be helpful to remove a sample from a lymph node or even an entire lymph node for microscopic examination.
HOW IS SWOLLEN LYMPH NODES TREATED?
Swollen lymph nodes caused by a virus may return to normal after the viral infection resolves. Antibiotics are not useful to treat viral infections. Treatment for swollen lymph nodes from other causes depends on the cause:
Infection. The most common treatment for swollen lymph nodes caused by a bacterial infection is antibiotics. If your swollen lymph nodes are due to an HIV infection, you'll receive treatment for that condition.
Immune disorder. If your swollen lymph nodes are a result of certain conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, treatment is directed at the underlying condition.
Cancer. Swollen nodes caused by cancer require treatment for the cancer. Depending on the type of cancer, treatment may involve surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
DID YOU KNOW?
If infection is the cause of swollen lymph nodes and isn't treated, these complications might occur:
Abscess formation. An abscess is a localized collection of pus caused by an infection. Pus contains fluid, white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria or other invaders. An abscess may require drainage and antibiotic treatment. An abscess may cause significant damage if it involves a vital organ.
Bloodstream infection (bacteremia). A bacterial infection anywhere in your body can progress to sepsis, caused by an overwhelming infection of the bloodstream. Sepsis may result in organ failure and death. Treatment involves hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.