Swollen lymph nodes usually occur as a result of exposure to bacteria or viruses. When swollen lymph nodes are caused by an infection, this is known as lymphadenitis (lim-fad-uh-NIE-tis). Rarely, swollen lymph nodes are caused by cancer.
Your lymph nodes, also called lymph glands, play a vital role in your body's ability to fight off viruses, bacteria and other causes of illnesses. Common areas where you might notice swollen lymph nodes include your neck, under your chin, in your armpits and in your groin.
In some cases, the passage of time and warm compresses may be all you need to treat swollen lymph nodes. Treatment for lymphadenitis depends on the cause.
Jan. 02, 2014
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Aug. 25, 2013.
- Fletcher RH. Evaluation of peripheral lymphadenopathy in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 25, 2013.
- Lymphadenitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/bacterial_skin_infections/lymphadenitis.html. Accessed Aug. 25, 2013.
- Motyckova G, et al. Why does my patient have lymphadenopathy or splenomegaly? Hematology and Oncology Clinics of North America. 2012;26:395.
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