A swollen lymph node occurs when alymphatic gland becomes swollen and inflamed. 
The lymph nodes are small bean-shaped pasta:

  • Made of lymphatic tissue,
  • Covered with connective tissue.

The lymphatic system spreads throughout the body ; therefore, the lymph nodes are located in all places of the body:

  • Neck ,
  • Abdominal area,
  • Armpits,
  • Chest,
  • Groin,
  • Knee.

They are more abundant :

  • Behind the clavicle,
  • In the armpits,
  • In the groin.

Sometimes swollen lymph nodes last for a few days, but can last for months or years depending on the pathology that the person suffers. 
The specialist doctor who deals with this disorder is the endocrinologist , but after locating the cause it is necessary to consult a doctor who specializes in the disease in question.


Causes of swollen lymph glands

Normal lymph nodes are the size of a pea and can be felt underneath the skin, especially when they become large as marbles or larger.

Usually, a simple infection (usually viral) like the cold can cause swelling of the lymph nodes. 
However, bacterial and parasitic infections can also cause swollen lymph glands.

Infections that occur frequently in children and adolescents  are:

Other types of infection:

  • Fever caused by an  animal bite , by a tick bite ( Lyme disease ) or by a cat scratch;
  • Toxoplasmosis : is an infection caused by parasites transmissible to humans by animals, in particular by infected cats, or due to the consumption of raw sheep and pig meat;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis ;
  • Tuberculosis and infections caused by ingestion or inhalation of the tuberculous bacillus.

Immune system disorders:

  • Infection caused by human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ) that causes AIDS(AIDS);
  • The rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the synovial tissue of the joints;
  • The Lupus is an inflammatory disease chronic affecting:
    • Lungs,
    • Heart,
    • Blood cells,
    • Kidneys,
    • Skin,
    • Joints.

Different types of cancer:

  • The leukemia is a malignancy that arises in the bone marrow and affects the blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • The lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic tissue.
  • Metastases from other cancers, in particular:

Rare causes

  • The use of medications , such as phenytoin, prescribed for certain types of seizures ( epilepsy ),
  • The vaccine against some diseases, such as malaria,
  • The sarcoidosis is a chronic disease that causes the formation of nodules:
    • In the lymph nodes and salivary glands,
    • In the lungs,
    • In the liver.
  • Kawasaki disease.
  • The diseases of storage:
    • Gaucher disease,
    • Niemann-Pick disease,
    • Tangier disease.

Generally, swollen lymph glands caused by infections grow faster than those caused by cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma. 
The stress and anxiety do not cause swelling and inflammation of the lymph nodes.


Symptoms that accompany swollen lymph nodes

Generally, when the lymph nodes are swollen the individual may feel:

  • Pain,
  • Numbness.

Other signs that may occur include:

  • Signs of upper respiratory tract infection such as:
  • Swelling of the glands throughout the body indicating:
    • An infection such as mononucleosis ,
    • AIDS,
    • Immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
  • Red skin over lymph nodes.
  • Swelling of the limbs (eg the legs ), indicating an obstruction of the lymphatic system due to an enlarged lymph node. This occurs very deep under the skin to be felt.
  • Rapid growth of lymph nodes that become hardened and fixed; may be a sign of cancer.


Causes of swollen inguinal lymph nodes

Pelvic lymph nodes may increase or swell due to injury and infection. The various factors that can cause lymph node swelling are listed below.

Infections.  The most common causes of swelling in the inguinal lymph nodes are infections:

  • Bacterial,
  • Viruses,
  • Fungal,
  • Parasite.

They are mainly located:

  • In the groin,
  • In genitals,
  • On the feet,
  • In the legs.

Sexually transmitted infections. The sexually transmitted diseases can cause swelling of the lymph nodes and cause pain. 
The most common are:

Injuries. Wounds and trauma to the legs, groin, or feet can affect the lymph nodes.

Tumor. A tumor in the lymphatic system is called lymphoma and can affect the lymph nodes in the groin. 
If lymphocytes undergo some malignant changes and start multiplying rapidly, they can cause malignant tumors that cause swollen lymph glands. 
All types of malignant tumors can metastasize to the lymph nodes; the most frequent are:

Hydrocele. Hydroceles are sacs filled with fluid present in the scrotum. They develop frequently in newborns, when the tube from which the testicles descend into the scrotum does not close. This causes drainage of fluid from the abdomen into the scrotum that causes swelling in the lymph nodes.

Inguinal hernia. The inguinal hernia is a lump of soft tissue of the intestine through a weak part in the abdominal wall. In addition to swelling in the lymph nodes, the symptoms can be many times:


Causes of swollen ear lymph glands

Swelling of the lymph nodes behind the ear may be associated with an infection:

  • Ocular,
  • Of the upper respiratory tract,
  • Of the scalp.

The ear infections may be another cause of swollen lymph nodes in the area around the ears and neck. 
Sometimes a lymph node injury can also cause swelling.

Lymph nodes can swell due to diseases such as:

These disorders can cause swollen lymph nodes, more often than those:

  • Cervical on both sides of the neck,
  • Under the jaw,
  • Behind the ears.

The rubella is caused by rubivirus and is characterized by the production of a red rash or color pink that appears on the face and then spreads to:

  • The chest,
  • The arms,
  • The legs.

In addition to blemishes on the skin , this viral infection can cause the development of swollen and painful lymph nodes:

  • Behind the ears,
  • At the back of the neck,
  • At the base of the skull.


Causes of swollen occipital lymph nodes (at the nape of the neck)

The lymph nodes or occipital lymph nodes (1-3 number) are a part of the lymphatic system. This system functions as a support unit for the immune system.

Swelling occurs rarely because of cancer.

They may be responsible for swelling:

In such cases, it is necessary to control the size of the lymph node. 
It is very important to determine if it is larger than a thumb and if it is still growing. 
It is necessary to talk to a doctor if the swelling lasts more than one month and is accompanied by:


Swollen lymph nodes


  • B, T, and NK cells are the types of lymphocytes or lymphocytes present in the human body.
  • These cells have a role in protecting the bodyagainst pathogens viruses, bacteria, etc.
  • B lymphocytes produce antibodies that bind to microorganisms and abnormal cells.
  • This binding leads to  surface antigenexposure , allowing recognition by T lymphocytes that suppress the antibody + microorganism complex.
  • Lymphoma is a cancer of lymphatic cells . It occurs when B, T and NK lymphocytes begin to divide (proliferate) uncontrollably.
  • These cells invade:
    • The occipital lymph nodes,
    • The other organs of the body that form the lymphatic system (spleen, thymus, bone marrow).
  • The lymphocytes accumulate and generate a tumor mass.
  • Cancer cells rarely create metastases from these lymph nodes to other organs of the body. 
    However, they can easily move from the abnormal occipital lymph node to one of the two remaining lymph nodes.


Submandibular lymph node swelling

The most frequent infections:

  • The colds,
  • Sore throat,
  • Streptococcal throat infection .

These infections can cause a swelling in the glands near the jaw.

Other common infections:

Disorders of the immune system:

Side effects:  Sore throat and swelling of the glands under the jaw may be the consequence of the side effects of certain medications such as:

  • Phenytoin (prescribed for epileptic seizures ),
  • Medicines for the vaccine against malaria , diphtheria , pertussis, tetanus  and typhoid .

Goiter:  The thyroid goiter is caused by an iodine deficiency and can cause swollen thyroid and throat. 
The swelling is evident and the disease can be easily diagnosed.

Other diseases:  The causes of swelling in the lymph nodes can be:


Swollen lymph nodes under the armpit

Swollen lymph nodes may occur under the armpit because of:

  • Infected wounds or lesions of:
    • Arm,
    • Hand,
    • Chest.
  • Bacterial infections,
  • Infection by cytomegalovirus ,
  • Vaccines against smallpox and tuberculosis,
  • Tuberculosis ,
  • Metastases of breast cancer.


Swollen lymph nodes in children

The most common causes of swollen lymph nodes in children are:

  • Viral diseases such as chickenpox, mumps and measles;
  • Sore throat caused by a bacterial infection;
  • Allergic reaction ;
  • Infections inside the ear;
  • Tooth infection;
  • Mononucleose;
  • Side effects of certain medicines and vaccines.


Diagnosis of swollen infusions

Medical examination
The doctor will palpate the affected area and check if:

  • Swelling of the superficial lymph nodes is visible as a mass in the region concerned.
  • Lymph nodes are painful to the touch. They are usually soft and move easily.
  • The skin in the region of the swollen lymph glands can swell, redden and be warm to the touch.

If the doctor deems it necessary, he may prescribe complementary tests to rule out other formations, such as:

  • Sebaceous cysts,
  • Lipomas.

Laboratory Tests

Instrumental imaging tests

  • Ultrasound ,
  • Radiography for deep lymph nodes.

When to worry?

In some cases, a lymph node can be:

  • Swollen for at least two weeks,
  • Hard to the touch,
  • Not sore.

In these cases, a medical evaluation is necessary because the problem can be caused by cancer.

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