Definition

What is lymphadenopathy?

Lymphadenopathy is the swelling of your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small organs that are a part of your immune system. Lymph nodes are found throughout your body. They are most easily felt in your neck, under your arms, and near your groin. Lymphadenopathy can occur in one or more areas of your body.

Lymphadenopathy is palpable enlargement (> 1 cm) of ≥ 1 lymph nodes; it is categorized as

  • Localized: When present in only 1 body area
  • Generalized: When present in ≥ 2 body areas

How common is lymphadenopathy?

Lymphadenopathy can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of lymphadenopathy?

You may have no symptoms, or you may have any of the common symptoms of lymphadenopathy:

  • A painful, warm, or red lump under your skin
  • More tiredness than usual
  • Skin rash
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Fever or night sweats

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new swollen and painful lymph node.
  • You have a skin rash.
  • Your lymph node remains swollen or painful, or it gets bigger.
  • Your lymph node has red streaks around it, or the skin around the lymph node is red.

Seek immediate help if:

  • The swollen lymph nodes bleed.
  • The swollen lymph nodes in your neck affect your breathing or swallowing.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes lymphadenopathy?

Lymphadenopathy is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Other causes include medicine or vaccine allergies, cancer, and diseases that affect tissue that supports, binds, and protects organs. Generalised lymphadenopathy may be caused by a wide range of conditions, as follows:

Viral:

  • Common upper respiratory infections
  • Infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Rubella, varicella, measles
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis A and hepatitis B
  • Roseola infantum – human herpesvirus type 6 (HHV-6)
  • Dengue fever
  • Adenovirus

Bacterial:

  • Septicaemia
  • Typhoid fever
  • TB
  • Syphilis
  • Plague
  • Lyme disease
  • Tularaemia
  • Brucellosis

Protozoal:

  • Toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis, Chagas’ disease
  • African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)

Fungal:

  • For example, coccidioidomycosis

Autoimmune disorders and hypersensitivity states:

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Drug reactions (eg, phenytoin, allopurinol, primidone):
  • Serum sickness

Storage diseases:

  • Gaucher’s disease
  • Niemann-Pick disease

Neoplastic and proliferative disorders:

  • Acute leukaemias
  • Lymphomas (Hodgkin’s, non-Hodgkin’s)
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Histiocytoses

Risk factors

What increases my risk for lymphadenopathy?

There are many risk factors for lymphadenopathy, such as:

  • Interaction with cats
  • Undercooked meal
  • Tick bite
  • Tuberculosis
  • Recent blood transfusion or transplant
  • High-risk sexual behavior
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Occupation: hunters, trappers, fishermen, slaughterhouse worker
  • Travel to infectious regions

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is lymphadenopathy diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will check your lymph node for its size and location. You may need the following tests to help healthcare providers find the cause of your lymphadenopathy:

  • Blood tests may show if you have an infection or other medical condition.
  • A chest x-ray is a picture that helps healthcare providers check your lung and heart function.
  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of the lymph nodes on a monitor.
  • A CT scan is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your lymph nodes. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • An MRI uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your lymph nodes. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A lymph node biopsy is a procedure used to remove a sample of tissue to be tested. Healthcare providers may remove lymph cells through a needle or remove one or more lymph nodes during surgery.

How is lymphadenopathy treated?

Your symptoms may go away without treatment. Your healthcare provider may need to treat the problem that has caused the lymph nodes to swell. Medicines may be given for infections, cancer, or other causes of your lymphadenopathy.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage lymphadenopathy?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with lymphadenopathy:

  • Apply a warm compress. Apply a warm, wet compress, such as a washcloth dipped in hot water and wrung out, to the affected area.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
  • Get adequate rest. You often need rest to aid your recovery from the underlying condition.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: June 27, 2017 | Last Modified: June 27, 2017

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