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Swollen Lymph Nodes: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2021

What is the treatment?

Lymph Nodes being one of the component of the immune system in your body swells on getting exposed to infection, encountering injuries or if a tumour develops near to the lymph node. Amongst several groups of lymph nodes present your body, the one that mostly gets swollen or enlarged is the lymph nodes around the neck. Lymph nodes present in the abdomen and chest also experience enlargement. Enlargement caused as a result of infection or injury is often painful whereas no pain indicates the presence of a tumour or increase chances of cancer.

If you are suffering from an infection, your body stimulates the number of white blood cells that leads to increase the response to the foreign substance in the body. For instance, if you get a swollen lymph node right under your arm, it is perhaps the result of injury or infection in hand or the arm. Also, in cases of breast cancer, you might have a swollen lymph node under your arm. Again, swollen lymph nodes in the groin are often the result of an injury in leg or foot and even in genitals.

You are supposed to face symptoms like tenderness along with pain in the lymph nodes, a unique swelling that shapes like a kidney bean, high fever, excess night sweat or enlargement in lymph nodes throughout the body. However, if these enlarged nodes do not seem to get normal within few days, you must consult a doctor. The treatment would include thorough examination and health test to diagnose the cause further accompanied by medication.

What does a Swollen Lymph Node feel like?

At first, it may feel like a small round bump which may be soft and tender in case of inflammation. Depending upon a root cause it can be as small as a pea to large as a baseball.

In case of appearance, it may be located parallel to the same parts of the body. If one lymph node is bigger on one side than the other, it indicates swelling.

In case of discomfort, it can be painful if the patient makes a sudden or strained movement connected to the affected area.

Are Swollen Lymph Nodes hard?

Yes, often patients with Swollen Lymph Nodes describe it as a hard unmovable lump under the skin. At initial stages, it may feel small and rubbery but the more infection it gets, the denser it would be.

In case the lump around your neck, armpit, or groin gets very large and hard; consult your doctor immediately as it can be a symptom associated with lymphoma or cancer.

Can a lymph node stay enlarged?

Only in the case where the root cause of the swelling is left untreated, the enlarged size of the lymph nodes will be the same. That's because of the accumulation of the infected fluid and debris that is stacked up in tissues. Consult your doctor immediately if the swelling seems to enlarge more with time with or without any treatment.

What causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?

The cause of the Swollen Lymph Nodes depends on the underlying medical condition and its connection to the infected area.

In most cases the lymph node swelling is specific to a particular area which is known as generalized or localized lymphadenopathy, here are some of the reasons that can be the cause of your Swollen Lymph Nodes:

  1. Infections: General viral infections like common cold, tooth, gum, tonsillitis, throat, or skin infections can cause localized lymphadenopathy. Multiple lymph nodes can also happen if the infect is as major as:
    • HIV
    • Cat scratch fever
    • Lyme disease
    • Chickenpox
    • Tuberculosis
    • Herpes
    • Toxoplasmosis
    • Measles
    • Rubella

    Immune system disorders like cancer, malignancy, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc. can also cause Swollen Lymph Nodes.

  2. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Can also cause swelling lymph nodes in the groin. Lymph Swelling in the groin is also named inguinal lymph nodes.

How is the treatment done?

Swollen lymph nodes or swollen lymph glands generally get normal with time if caused by infection or injury. If you experience a swollen lymph node that continues to get enlarged with days, you must get an advice of a doctor. Some more symptoms that call for the necessity of doctor’s advice are enlarged lymph node with no apparent cause, the area feels hard and rubbery in nature and it is accompanied by high fever, drastic weight loss and night sweats.

Doctor primarily would conduct a thorough research on your recent medication and medical history. You should provide detailed information regarding how the swell emerged and its effect on your health. A proper check of the area and health situations would help in diagnosing the underlying cause for it. Further, the doctor would recommend you to undergo multiple blood test. These blood test mostly includes complete blood count (CBC) that helps the doctor to conduct a proper diagnosis and detect range of disorders like leukaemia and severe infections in the blood. You might be asked for an X-ray (chest) or Scan to make sure if any tumour is present. Some of the common infections that gives rise to swollen lymph glands are measles, infected tooth, ear infection, HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus), Tuberculosis, severe skin infection or injury. Besides infections, cancer like leukaemia and lymphoma may result in swollen lymph nodes.

For infection related swollen lymph nodes, doctors generally prescribe antibiotics. In case of enlargement of lymph nodes due to immune disorder, doctors implement treatment based on the condition of the patient while in case of cancer treatment, patients may undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

When should you worry about a Swollen Lymph Node?

Swollen Lymph Nodes can be a serious problem in case it shows the following signs without any underlying infection or post-treatment of the infection:

  • Fever
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Night sweats

In case the patient has lymph nodes due to cancer and post-treatment new lymph nodes start to grow, consult your medical professionals immediately.

How do Swollen Lymph Nodes go away?

Yes, since the swelling is often connected to an underlying medical condition, the healing of Swollen Lymph Nodes is also associated with its treatment.

To speed up the recovery of Swollen Lymph Nodes, your doctor may provide a combination of antibiotics/antiviral and anti-inflammatory medication.

Other than the medical treatment, here are some home remedies that one can follow in order to cure the Swollen Lymph Nodes:

  • Application of warm compress
  • Hydration
  • Rest
  • OTC medications and ointments for inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Swollen lymph nodes involve several underlying causes. Therefore, treatment is entirely dependent on the cause. The first step is to diagnose the cause and further implementing the most effective treatment. Generally, antibiotics are prescribed for infection related swells whereas immune disease and cancer require specific treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Therefore the eligibility to undergo swollen lymph nodes treatment is entirely based on the diagnosis of the cause.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Treatment of swollen lymph nodes glands depends on the diagnosis of the cause. There are no such eligibility criteria. People experiencing enlargement in lymph nodes are required to treat the swell with home remedies for few days and further take doctors’ advice if it seems to get worse.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects of treatment for swollen lymph nodes are the adverse effects of medicines prescribed by the doctors. In regard to, woollen lymph nodes caused due to infection, patients get to face adverse effects of antibiotics like vomiting, vaginal discharge or itching, allergic reactions, white patches in tongue and many more.

On the other hand, if swollen lymph nodes occur due to diseases like cancer and immune disorders, treatment of chemotherapy and radiation produces an adverse effect on health like excess hair loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, blood disorders, diarrhoea and malfunction in the nervous system.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Swollen lymph nodes are very common and mostly takes places due to infection or injuries. If you have undergone treatment of swollen lymph nodes, you must avoid a situation that would create further swollen lymph nodes probabilities.

In this regard, you should avoid getting infected and getting hurt or injured. This would avoid the occurrence of swollen lymph nodes further.

How long does it take to recover?

Swollen lymph nodes that occur due to infection or virus concern generally tend to increase in the first 2 to 3 days. However, proper treatment reduces it to normal condition within 3 to 4 weeks of time.

How long do lymph nodes stay swollen?

If the swelling of the lymph nodes is caused by infection, it may last long up to two or three weeks. In other cases, the duration of swelling will totally depend on the treatment time of the disease which causes the inflammation.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Treatment cost of swollen lymph nodes in India remains dependent on the cause. For lymph nodes enlargement due to infection or virus, costs are minimal and are limited to doctor consultation fees and few medicines. However, if swollen lymph nodes suspect growth of cancer or a tumour, the cost is equal to the treatment involved in cancer treatment procedure. This would include chemotherapy and radiation that involves huge cost.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Treatment to swollen lymph nodes caused by infections or viruses generally meets permanent recovery. However, in case of swollen lymph nodes caused due to cancer growth in the body, the risk definitely increases. Basically, the swollen lymph nodes caused due to cancer acts as an indicator of risk. In other words, a swollen lymph nodes treatment would make sure if you are suffering from cancer or not.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are several natural ingredients that act vigorously in recovering swollen lymph nodes in the body. If you are experiencing swollen lymph nodes, you can definitely try these remedies in the primary days and observe the result at home. However, if symptoms increase with time, you are advised to consult a doctor.

Some of the home remedies include intake of raw garlic, manuka honey, apple cider vinegar, more consumption of products rich in Vitamin C, use of essential oil and tea tree oil. Added to that, warm compress and message are of huge help to swollen lymph nodes.

Summary: Swollen Lymph Nodes can be described as a medical condition in which the lymph nodes get swollen due to any underlying infection for a serious condition. Sound on different parts of the body and if not treated on time it can lead to serious health complications.

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Written ByDr. Goma Bali Bajaj Diploma in geriatric,MBBS,MEM,Diploma In GeriatricGeneral Physician
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