Lymph nodes are bean-shaped, tiny glands which occur across the body. Lymph nodes are an important constituent of the lymphatic system, and is responsible for carrying nutrients, lymph fluid, and unwanted waste between the blood stream and the tissues in the body.
The lymphatic system is an essential component of the immune system and instrumental in defense of the body against infections. The lymph nodes trap viruses, bacteria, and other unwanted materials, thereby filtering the lymph fluid which passes through them. The captured substances are then destroyed by lymphocytes.
Lymph nodes may occur as a solitary node, or in clusters. They can be quite tiny or as large as a pea. It is possible to feel clusters of lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, and groin. They are nor painful or tender to touch. It is not possible to feel a majority of lymph nodes present in the body.
Causes of inflamed lymph nodes
Lymph nodes present in a particular area often experience inflammation and swelling, due to the development of infection, injury, or a tumor in that region. The location of inflamed lymph nodes can help determine the cause of the problem. The common sites for inflamed lymph nodes include the groin, armpits, and neck.
The axillary lymph nodes or underarm lymph nodes may experience inflammation or swelling due to an infection or an injury to the arm or the hand. In rare cases, inflamed lymph nodes in the armpit area may signify lymphoma or breast cancer.
Inflammation of lymph nodes occurring below the jaw, on both sides of the neck, or behind the ears, generally tends to happen because of a sore throat or a cold. The glands may also experience swelling due the presence of an infection or a tumor in the head, mouth, or neck; or after an injury near the lymph node site.
The supraclavicular lymph nodes which are located over the collarbone may undergo inflammation due to the presence of a tumor or an infection in varied regions such as the breasts, lungs, abdomen, or neck.
The inguinal or femoral lymph nodes present in the groin may become swollen because of an infection or an injury to the groin, foot, genitals, or leg. Inflamed lymph nodes in the groin may sometimes occur due to melanoma, lymphoma, or testicular cancer.
Inflamed lymph nodes occurring in two or more regions may indicate the presence of varied conditions such as viral or bacterial illnesses; mononucleosis; side effects of measles-mumps-rubella vaccination or of as a side effect of Dilantin, an anti-seizure drug; syphilis; HIV/AIDS; or cancers like leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,and Hodgkin’s disease.
Treatment of inflamed lymph nodes
The treatment of inflamed lymph nodes is focused at identifying the cause of the condition and then treating the underlying disease. For example, if inflamed lymph nodes are caused due to bacterial or viral infections, then the underlying conditions can be respectively treated with antibiotics and anti-viral medications.
If a case of inflamed lymph nodes persists for more than a month, then it is important for patients to consult a doctor and get a through diagnosis done.