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There are a number of causes of swollen lymph glands. The most common cause is infection. See your doctor if you have swollen lymph glands and you do not know why they have swollen, or if swollen lymph glands caused by an infection do not go down again within two weeks.
What are lymph glands?
Small lymph glands (sometimes called lymph nodes) occur throughout the body. Lymph glands that are near each other often form into groups or chains. Examples of where lymph glands group together are the sides of the neck, the armpits and the groins. The diagram shows the main groups of lymph glands in the head and neck. However, lymph glands occur in many other places in the body.
Lymph glands are joined together by a network of lymph channels. Lymph is a fluid that forms between the cells of the body. This watery fluid travels in the lymph channels, through various lymph glands and eventually drains into the bloodstream.
Lymph and lymph glands are major parts of the immune system. They contain white blood cells (lymphocytes) and antibodies that defend the body against infection.
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A lymph node is a small, round or bean-shaped cluster of cells covered by a capsule of connective tissue. The cells are a combination of lymphocytes which produce protein particles that capture invaders, such as viruses and macrophages, which break down the captured material. Lymphocytes and macrophages filter your lymphatic fluid as it travels through your body and protect you by destroying invaders.
Lymph nodes are located in groups, and each group drains a specific area of your body. You may be more likely to notice swelling in certain areas, such as in the lymph nodes in your neck, under your chin, in your armpits and in your groin. The site of the swollen lymph nodes may help identify the underlying cause.
The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is an infection, particularly a viral infection, such as the common cold. Other possible causes of swollen lymph nodes include:
* Strep throat
* Ear infections
* Infected (abscessed) tooth
* Skin or wound infections, such as cellulitis
* Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) — the virus that causes AIDS
* Toxoplasmosis — a parasitic infection resulting from contact with the feces of an infected cat or eating undercooked meat
* Cat scratch fever — a bacterial infection from a cat scratch or bite
Immune system disorders
* Lupus — a chronic inflammatory disease that can target your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs
* Rheumatoid arthritis — a chronic inflammatory disease that targets the tissue that lines your joints (synovium)
* Lymphoma — cancer that originates in your lymphatic system
* Leukemia — cancer of your body's blood-forming tissue, including your bone marrow and lymphatic system
* Other cancers that have spread (metastasized ) to lymph nodes
Other possible but rare causes include certain medications, such as the anti-seizure medication
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A swollen lymph node can be as small as the size of a pea and as large as the size of a cherry.
Swollen lymph nodes can be painful to the touch, or they can hurt when you make certain movements.
Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or on either side of the neck may hurt when you turn your head in a certain way or when you’re chewing food. They can often be felt simply by running your hand over your neck just below your jawline. They may be tender.
Swollen lymph nodes in the groin may cause pain when walking or bending.
Other symptoms that may be present along with swollen lymph nodes are:
If you experience any of these symptoms, or if you have painful swollen lymph nodes and no other symptoms, consult your doctor. Lymph nodes that are swollen but not tender can be signs of a serious problem, such as cancer.
In some cases, the swollen lymph node will get smaller as other symptoms go away. If a lymph node is swollen and painful or if the swelling lasts more than a few days, see your doctor.
Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped organs that filter lymph fluid. They are located throughout the body, but particular collections are found just under the skin in the neck, under the arms, and in the groin area. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, which is one of the body's defense mechanisms against the spread of infection and cancer.
Lymph is clear fluid that is made up of water, white blood cells, proteins, and fats that have filtered out of blood vessels into the spaces between cells. Some of the fluid is reabsorbed by the blood vessels, but the rest enters the lymphatic vessels. Lymph then passes through the lymph nodes, which are specific collection points where damaged cells, infectious organisms, and cancer cells are filtered from the fluid and destroyed. If many infectious organisms or cancer cells are present, the lymph nodes swell. Sometimes, organisms cause infection within a lymph node.
Lymphadenopathy is the term doctors use to refer to swollen lymph nodes. A few small nodes often can be felt in healthy people. Lymph nodes that are larger and easily felt may be a sign of a disorder. Some people use the term "swollen glands" to refer to swollen lymph nodes, especially when the nodes in the neck are swollen. However, lymph nodes are not glands.
Lymphadenitis is the term used when swollen lymph nodes are painful or have signs of inflammation (for example, redness or tenderness). Lymph nodes in only one body area may be swollen, or nodes in two or more body areas can be swollen. Other symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, or fever, may be present depending on the cause. Sometimes swollen lymph nodes are discovered when the person is being examined because of another symptom.
You’ve woken up, stepped into the shower, and noticed what appears to be “armpit lumps.” Does this mean you have cancer or some other major health issue? Is there anything that can be done about it? The truth is that you’re probably suffering from swollen lymph nodes in armpits. As to what causes them, a great many things. But don’t worry; we’ve got a beginner’s guide for swollen lymph nodes. We’ll cover swollen lymph node in the armpits causes, how swollen lymph nodes are diagnosed, swollen lymph node in the armpits symptoms, and swollen lymph node in the armpits home remedies. By the time we’re done, we hope you will be armed with enough knowledge about armpit lumps to benefit your health.
Cause of Swollen Lymph Nodes in Armpits
Swollen lymph nodes in armpit can develop for a number of different reasons—some of which have heavier consequences for your health than others.
1. Cat Scratch Disease
Cat scratch disease, also known as cat scratch fever, is when Bartonella henselae, a bacterium that is carried by cats, is introduced to humans through a scratch or bite from a cat. It can cause fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, and the swelling of the lymph nodes.
Injury to areas such as the armpit, hand, or arm can lead to swollen lymph nodes.
Unfortunately, there are multiple forms of cancer that can cause swollen lymph nodes. Breast, melanoma, and lymphoma cancers can all cause the lymph nodes to become swollen.
Brucellosis (which is also referred to as Malta fever, undulant fever, and Mediterranean fever) is a bacterial infection that is usually found within animals but transmitted to humans via contact or contact with infected animal products (milk, meat, etc.).
5. Silicone Implants
Silicone implants can cause swollen lymph nodes for a few different reasons. The body can have a reaction to the foreign item that causes swelling, and a leaking implant could produce a similar effect.
6. Allergic Reaction
What do underarm lymph nodes do? Why do they swell up? And how do you know if the swelling is simply an infection – or might be cancer?
You’re taking a shower, soaping up. And suddenly, underneath your arm, your fingers detect a painful, tender lump – one that wasn’t there yesterday. Your mind starts to race: “Do I need to worry about this? Could it be an infected lymph node, even though I haven’t felt sick? Could it be… cancer?”
What is the lymphatic system?
Your body’s lymphatic system, made up of a series of small vessels, carries a clear liquid – lymph – from your body tissues to the heart. In the heart, lymph joins blood and is pumped via arteries back to the tissues. This efficient system helps drain excess liquid from tissues, and transports infection-fighting white blood cells to where they’re needed.
What are lymph nodes?
Scattered along these small lymphatic vessels are up to 700 lymph nodes. These small (think bean-sized) bundles of tissue produce and store lymphocytes: immune cells whose job it is to trap and kill foreign substances, including harmful bacteria and viruses.
Why do lymph nodes become swollen?
When your body detects a foreign substance, it sends white blood cells to destroy that substance. White blood cells are manufactured in the lymph nodes, and sometimes when your body is dealing with an infection, these nodes manufacture so many cells that they become swollen, and you can feel them. They also become sore and painful. Most often, you’ll feel painful, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, groin, or under your arm.
Your lymphatic system is a network of organs, vessels and lymph nodes situated throughout your body. Many lymph nodes are located in your head and neck region. Lymph nodes that frequently swell are in this 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:
Tenderness and pain in the lymph nodes
Swelling that may be the size of a pea or kidney bean, or even larger in the lymph nodes
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
Hard, fixed, rapidly growing nodes, indicating a possible tumor
When to see a doctor
A lymph node that is rapidly growing over one to two days has a different cause and treatment than generalized swelling of lymph nodes that occurs over a few months. Tell a doctor about any rapidly growing nodes at the time of examination because this helps establish a diagnosis.
Standard treatment for swollen lymph nodes may include pain relievers and medicine to lower a fever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Home remedies such as warm compresses and elevation may help reduce and resolve swelling.
If the cause of the swelling is infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications.
If there is a localized pocket of infection (abscess), it may need to be drained by cutting open the skin, draining the infected fluids, and then filling the opening with packing.
For swelling due to malignancy, the treatment may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
If a person has an immune disorder, he/she may be prescribed medication to help with the disease.
Swollen Lymph Nodes Self-Care at Home
If a person has symptoms of a cold or other minor infection for which they may or may not take antibiotics, it takes about two weeks for the nodes to return to normal size. No specific treatment is needed.
If the nodes are small (less than 2 cm or 3/4 of an inch), are in the groin or under the chin, and you are a young adult, this is considered normal.
Children tend to have a more active lymphatic system, so their nodes may feel enlarged.
Lymph nodes are glands that are found throughout the body, most notably in the neck, behind the ears and under the arms. These small, bean shaped glands store nutrients and fluids and help to filter waste material out of the bloodstream and body tissue. The lymph nodes will also produce antibodies which can help fight off viruses, bacteria and other damaging materials that find their way into the blood stream. Afterwards, the lymph nodes will absorb these materials to help filter them out of the body, causing the lymph nodes to temporarily become swollen. This does not typically cause any pain but the swollen area can feel uncomfortable, as though something is out of place.
Possible Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes behind the Ear
The lymph nodes are sensitive to changes in the body, most notably new tissues or particles that agitate the immune system. Listed below are some of the most common causes for swollen lymph nodes behind the left ear.
Infections- Infections which enlarge the lymph nodes can be bacterial, viral or fungal. When the body suffers an infection, the cells start to produce antibodies to fight it off. Infections frequently cause the lymph nodes to become swollen as they work to produce additional antibodies to seek out these infectious agents. As they work to increase production, they will become enlarged. If the lymph nodes behind the ears are swollen this is a sign that you are suffering from an infection in the ear, throat or eye, and around the scalp. You may also be suffering from an allergic reaction in this area that has heightened your antibody production. Some specific types of infections that affect the nodes behind the left ear include:
Fungal Infection- Fungal infections in or around the head can cause the lymph nodes behind the ear to swell as the body works to remove the infectious elements. This may be accompanied by itching of the scalp or hair loss if the infection is damaging the skin.
Treatments for swollen lymph nodes should address your discomfort as well as other symptoms that accompany your condition. Home remedies can often provide adequate relief, but if they appear to have no affect you should contact your doctor to determine if medical intervention is necessary.
In most cases, home care can help relieve swollen lymph nodes. Applying a hot compress can help relieve the discomfort, though it should not be so hot as to scald the skin. If you are suffering from an infection in the throat, or if the sinuses are inflamed, sipping warm liquids such as chicken broth or tea can help provide relief. It is common for lymph nodes to remain swollen for several days as your body fights off the infection.
Your lymph nodes will not return to their normal size until the infection in the body has been distinguished. If this is taking a long time or your other symptoms are causing discomfort you should see your doctor to get antibiotics to help ward off the infection. Your doctor will perform tests to help determine what type of infection you are suffering from so they can recommend appropriate treatment. It may be necessary to take blood samples or perform x-rays or a CT scan to see if there are tumors or other serious conditions present in the body causing the lymph nodes to become swollen. The lymph nodes behind the ears are especially sensitive to cancerous cells, so it is important to seek medical attention if these appear to be acting in an irregular way.
If your lymph nodes have been swollen for several weeks, if they feel hard or fixed in place, they become tender or red, or they feel irregular then you should see a doctor to determine what might be wrong. See a doctor right away if you start to experience night sweats, fever or unexplained weight loss. This is a sign that you may be dealing with a more serious condition that is affecting the behind the ear. Check for swelling near the collar bone, or around the n