Lymph nodes are located in various parts of the body including in the neck, armpits and the area of the groin. As a component of the body’s immune system, these tiny glands trap foreign and dangerous matter that is found in lymph fluid. When an individual has swollen lymph nodes, they are usually only swollen in one area of the body. This helps physicians narrow down the cause of the swelling. Typical causes for swollen lymph nodes around the neck area include the common cold, a sore throat, an injury or an infection. Swollen glands in the groin area are usually caused by an infection. Individuals who have enlarged lymph nodes in the area of the armpit may have lymphoma or breast cancer.
In addition to being enlarged, a person’s lymph nodes may also be painful or sore to the touch when they are swollen. Additional symptoms may include a fever and waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night. If the lymph nodes are swollen in various places on the body, instead of in one generalized area, these symptoms are often due to an infection or a disorder of the immune system. If the lymph nodes become hard or if they continue to grow, this could be a sign of a tumor growth. Individuals should visit a physician if the lymph nodes remain swollen for over two weeks.
Swollen lymph nodes can be caused by accumulating bacteria and dead or diseased cells when passing through the lymph channels. When bacteria and dead or diseased cells are stopped at the node, they begin to amass and cause infection. Subsequently, they swell as a result.
Lymph nodes can swell due to a number of different factors, such as stress, infection, and illnesses, such as the cold or flu, mononucleosis (mono), strep throat, a sinus infection, HIV/AIDS infection, a skin infection, ear infection or an infected tooth. Serious diseases like cancer, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause the lymph nodes to swell. Lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system) also causes lymph nodes to swell.
Lymph nodes can swell due to allergic reactions to medications, or the medications themselves. STIs like syphilis and gonorrhea also cause lymph node inflammation. Lymph nodes can also swell due to the following:
• Mouth sores
• Tuberculosis (TB)
• Cat scratch fever
• Hodgkin’s disease
• Bug bites
• Fungal infections
• Menstrual cycle
• Gaucher’s disease
• Sjogren’s Syndrome
When treating swollen lymph nodes, the cause of the swelling must first be determined before beginning the treatment. A physician will examine the lymph nodes and perform various tests that may include blood tests, x-rays and a biopsy of the lymph nodes if the signs indicate cancer. When individuals have an infection, a physician will order antiviral or antibiotic drugs. If an infection has caused an abscess, a physician will cut open the abscess and allow it to drain. If the lymph nodes are swollen due to cancer, the treatments include chemotherapy, radiation and surgical procedures.
You can prevent swollen lymph nodes using exercise, herbal remedies, a healthy diet, and by drinking plenty of water. You can also try a lymphatic massage and certain breathing techniques. Try walking or jumping as a form of exercise, which keeps the lymph moving and stimulated. Burdock root (a blood cleanser that can be drunk as tea), red root (a blood purifier that can be taken as a drink), and chickweed (a blood purifier) are herbal remedies you can try to reduce the swelling of or prevent the return of lymph nodes.
Drinking plenty of water helps flush out your system, preventing buildup and subsequently, swollen lymph nodes. Lymphatic massages help stimulate the flow of lymph and drainage lymph nodes. Breathing helps to circulate the blood and lymph. Breathing in and out slowly while sitting down should help with relaxation, which helps to prevent swollen nodes.