If you’ve noticed tender areas on your body when you’re sick, you are more than likely experiencing tender lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system which is a component of the immune system. Swollen lymph nodes may indicate an infection or illness. The most common areas where you will notice swelling of the lymph glands is in the neck, under the chin, in the armpit and the groin. A cluster of lymph nodes is also located in the chest and abdomen. There are several causes of swollen lymph nodes.
Cold and Flu
The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is the cold or flu. The cold and flu viruses will overwhelm the lymph glands. This leads to inflammation, and this is the reason why you will feel tenderness throughout your body, especially where lymph glands are located. Most healthy people will recover with a little rest and plenty of fluids.
An ear infection can also cause swollen lymph nodes. You’ll notice swollen lymph glands, particularly in the neck, if you are suffering from an ear infection. To relieve discomfort, you may apply warmth to the affected area. Sometimes, ear infections are serious enough that they require medical intervention.
An abscessed tooth means you have an infection in your tooth. The bacteria causing such an infection acts on your lymph nodes causing them to swell. You may also notice swelling when you experience problems with your wisdom teeth. There are about 100 different types of bacteria in your mouth at any given time. However, when a tooth becomes infected, bacteria from the tooth are transported continuously through the bloodstream. This bacteria alerts your body’s anti-infection defenses, thus causing your swollen lymph nodes. A visit to your dentist is often necessary to remedy an abscessed tooth.
Mononucleosis, more commonly known as the kissing disease, can be the culprit of swollen lymph nodes. Once the virus enters the body, the immune system begins to fight it. This can cause the lymph nodes to swell. Although mono is more common in teenagers, it can develop at any age. The best way to relieve swollen lymph nodes as a result of mono is to drink plenty of fluids and get adequate rest. Mono symptoms can last for several weeks or months but should clear up without medical treatment.
A parasitic infection, such as toxoplasmosis, can cause the lymph nodes to swell. Parasitic infections activate the body’s immune response which leads to the swollen lymph glands. Toxoplasmosis is not usually serious in a healthy person who is not pregnant. If you have a cat, you’re at a greater risk of contracting this infection when you come into contact with cat feces. Consuming undercooked meat will also put you at risk. The symptoms of this infection will usually clear up within a few weeks without treatment. However, if a person has a compromised immune system or is an infant, medical treatment is necessary.
If you come into contact with soil contaminated with bird or bat droppings, you may be at risk for developing a fungal infection called histoplasmosis. This infection is contracted when you breathe in airborne spores of the fungus. The ingestion of these spores will alert the body’s immune system and will recognize the foreign body. Any time the immune system reacts to a foreign substance in the body, you may notice swollen lymph glands. Most cases of histoplasmosis will clear up without medical intervention. However, more severe cases will require a trip to the doctor, and antifungal medications will be administered.
Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause swelling in the lymph nodes. Often, this can be caused by medicines prescribed to treat such conditions. These medications are used to suppress the immune system, and this leads to painful and swollen lymph nodes. You’ll notice the swelling and pain, especially in the jaw area, neck, and armpits.
Infections of the Skin
If you’re suffering from a skin infection, you probably notice swollen lymph glands. Cellulitis is a common skin infection that will cause the lymph nodes to swell. Bacteria can easily enter the body and lymphatic system through open wounds. The lymphatic system can usually rid the body of such bacteria. But, sometimes this system malfunctions and the lymph nodes swell. You will notice the lymph nodes closest to the infection will swell. Skin infections often will require medical intervention.
Although swollen lymph glands aren’t usually a cause for alarm, sometimes swollen lymph nodes signal a more serious problem. Many cancers can cause swollen lymph nodes. Some of these cancers can originate in the lymph nodes. Other cancers that are considered metastatic spread from another organ in the body. For instance, breast cancer can spread to nearby lymph nodes under the arm. Most people are unaware of cancer and are diagnosed when they go to the doctor because of the swollen lymph nodes. Once cancer is diagnosed, a plan of action will be put in place by a team of healthcare professionals.
If you experience a sore throat, this could be tonsillitis which means your tonsils are inflamed. The tonsils and lymph nodes are closely linked since the tonsils are part of the lymphatic system. If you have tonsillitis, chances are good that you will have swollen lymph nodes in your neck. The best remedy for tonsillitis is to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Many children will suffer from repeated bouts of tonsillitis and may need to have their tonsils removed in order to get permanent relief from the condition.