|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Alternative Names Return to topSwollen glands; Glands - swollen; Swollen lymph nodes; Lymph nodes - swollen; Lymphadenopathy
Definition Return to top
Lymph nodes are found throughout your body. They are an important part of your immune system. Lymph nodes help your body recognize and fight germs, infections, and other foreign substances.
The term "swollen glands" refers to enlargement of one or more lymph nodes.
In a child, a node is considered enlarged if it is more than 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) in diameter.
See also: Lymphadenitis and lymphangitis
Considerations Return to top
Common areas where the lymph nodes can be felt (with the fingers) include:
Lymph nodes can become swollen from infection, inflammatory conditions, an abscess, or cancer. Other causes of enlarged lymph nodes are rare. By far, the most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is infection.
When swelling appears suddenly and is painful, it is usually caused by injury or an infection. Enlargement that comes on gradually and painlessly may, in some cases, result from cancer or a tumor.
Causes Return to top
Infections that commonly cause swollen lymph nodes include:
Immune or autoimmune disorders that can cause swollen lymph nodes include rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.
Cancers that can often cause swollen lymph nodes include leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. However, many other cancers may also cause this problem.
Which lymph nodes are swollen depends on the type of problem and the body parts involved. Identifying the location can help determine the possible cause.
Swollen lymph nodes may also be caused by some medications (such phenytoin for seizures) or certain vaccinations (such as typhoid immunization).
Home Care Return to top
Soreness in lymph nodes usually disappears in a couple of days without treatment, but the nodes may not return to normal size for several weeks after the infection has cleared. Generally, if they are painful, it is because they swell rapidly in the early stages of fighting an infection.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, checking all of your palpable lymph nodes for size, texture, warmth, tenderness, and other features.
Your doctor may ask the following medical history questions:
The following diagnostic tests may be performed:
References Return to top
Armitage JO. Approach to the patient with lympadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman L. Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 174.
Camitta BM. Lymphadenopathy. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 490.Update Date: 4/14/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine(7/15/2008).