Guide To The Causes Of Swollen Lymph Nodes

The lymphatic system is the part of the body that circulates lymphatic fluid. The lymph nodes act as the filtration system for this part of the body. They also store white blood cells, which are part of the immune system, and kill invading pathogens. When individuals have a tumor or an infection, the lymph nodes swell. When abnormal or diseased cells, bacteria, and viruses pass through the lymphatic system, the lymph nodes stop them from circulating to other parts of the body. If the body is fighting an illness or infection, the lymph nodes catch debris. 

Swollen lymph node treatment varies based on the condition causing it. For instance, antibiotics for swollen lymph nodes are sometimes required. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help relieve lymph node swelling. Some patients may need to take a fever reducer for swollen lymph nodes in certain cases. Rest and fluids also help relieve many causes of swollen lymph nodes. Of course, patients need to understand the causes to receive the best treatment for swollen lymph nodes.

Measles

Measles, otherwise known as rubeola, is a highly contagious disease. Vaccines can prevent it, which is one of the many reasons why keeping up-to-date on vaccinations is vital. Unfortunately, there are some parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Due to this, there have been some measles outbreaks recently, despite the disease previously being virtually eradicated in the United States. Measles occurs in children and can be fatal. Throughout the world, more than 100,000 individuals are killed by measles every year. The majority of these cases are under five years old. 

Measles symptoms tend to appear around ten to fourteen days after someone is exposed to the virus. The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, runny nose, dry cough, and inflamed eyes. There is also often a skin rash that consists of large and flat blotches flowing into one another. A characteristic sign of measles is tiny white spots on a red background with bluish-white centers. They are usually located on the cheek's inner lining or inside the mouth.

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Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacteria-related infection that leads to pain and inflammation in the throat. The bacteria responsible is group A Streptococcus. The condition can affect adults and children of any age, and it tends to be highly contagious. It is most common in children between five and fifteen years old. Coughing and sneezing can cause bacteria to spread between individuals. The severity of the condition varies depending on the person. The mildest cases tend to present with just a sore throat. 

However, some patients have trouble swallowing and develop a fever. Swollen lymph nodes often accompany the fever. Fevers associated with strep throat often come on suddenly and reach temperatures of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Patients may also have a reddened throat with white patches, headaches, chills, and loss of appetite. The lymph nodes in the neck are typically the ones that become swollen due to strep throat. Patients usually experience symptoms five days or less after they are initially exposed to the bacteria.

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Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is an infectious disease most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Some other common terms for the illness are 'mono' and 'the kissing disease.' In addition to getting the virus through kissing, individuals can get it by sharing silverware or drinks with others. Although mononucleosis is contagious, individuals are less likely to catch it than they are to catch the common cold. This condition does not tend to be serious, but it can cause potentially serious complications. 

Some patients only experience mild symptoms, while others have more severe problems. It might be impossible to partake in normal daily activity for multiple weeks. The symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient and show up four to seven weeks after exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus. The most common symptoms are sore muscles, a sore throat, a loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, a fever, and fatigue. The majority of patients recover within two to four weeks. However, it is possible to feel fatigued for multiple weeks after the other symptoms abate.

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Ear Infections

Ear infections usually occur in the middle ear. Infections can also occur in the inner ear, though these are less common. The middle ear is the air-filled area behind the eardrum. It contains the small bones in the ear that vibrate. These vibrations are picked up by the nerves and sent to the brain, which interprets them as sound. Ear infections are more common in children than adults, but anyone can get one. 

It is common for ear infections to clear up by themselves. However, antibiotics are sometimes necessary to help clear the infection. Doctors may choose to monitor the problem and manage pain rather than prescribing antibiotics right away. Some individuals are prone to getting multiple ear infections, either simultaneously or very close to each other. This can lead to potentially serious complications, including hearing loss. Symptoms of an ear infection tend to come on rapidly. Patients will often have swollen lymph nodes, and they may experience fluid drainage from their affected ear as well.

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Cellulitis

Cellulitis occurs when bacteria infect the skin and the tissues directly below the skin. Many types of bacteria can cause cellulitis, though some are more common than others. Individuals are more likely to develop cellulitis if they have open wounds like scratches, surgical wounds, ulcers, sores, or punctures. The lymph nodes that become enlarged will vary depending on the location of the infection. Other common symptoms include swelling, tenderness, pain, redness, and the affected area being warm to the touch. 

The infection often occurs in the legs, but it can develop anywhere in the body. This is not a contagious infection. If cellulitis spreads to other organs of the body, it can cause life-threatening complications. Cellulitis that has spread becomes an emergency medical condition that requires immediate treatment. The main treatment for cellulitis is a course of oral antibiotics. Intravenous antibiotics are necessary in severe cases.

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Infected Tooth

An infected tooth, which may also be referred to as a tooth abscess, is another common cause of swollen lymph nodes. Individuals will deal with an infected tooth when bacteria infect one or more of their teeth. If the patient's tooth is left untreated, the bacteria will result in the tooth filling with pus and eventually becoming seriously infected. Causes of an infected tooth or tooth abscess include broken or chipped teeth as well as tooth decay. 

Patients with an infected tooth will deal with symptoms such as bad breath, pain when chewing, tooth pain, swollen gums, and increased sensitivity to cold or hot items. Of course, swollen lymph nodes are another major result of an infected tooth. Patients will often see them in their neck.

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Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is incredibly infectious. This disease is the result of bacteria. In most cases, it is the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Tuberculosis mainly affects the lungs, though it can also affect other parts of an individual's body. Many patients have latent tuberculosis. This means that they are infected, though they do not display symptoms. In many instances, their condition can remain dormant for years before it becomes active tuberculosis. When it is active, there are many symptoms of tuberculosis. Many patients experience respiratory symptoms, such as coughing up phlegm or blood. Other warning signs are night sweats, appetite loss, unexplained fatigue, and fever. Of course, tuberculosis often causes lymph nodes to swell. The lymph nodes that do swell depend on the exact location of the patient's infection.

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Common Cold Or Flu

Many individuals will have swollen lymph nodes due to the common cold or flu. Both of these illnesses are quite common. In fact, most healthy adults deal with the common cold two to three times in one year. Children have more than this. The flu does not occur this often for each individual, though the United States sees millions of cases of the flu annually. 

The common cold and flu share a few symptoms, including congestion, sore throat, and sneezing. Patients often have swollen lymph nodes in their neck in both illnesses. However, there are some differences. First, symptoms of the flu tend to be more severe than cold symptoms. In addition, some flu symptoms are quite rare in the common cold. Examples of these include fever, chills, and headaches. 

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Chickenpox

Chickenpox, which is the result of the varicella-zoster virus, is an iconic condition. The key sign of it is the itchy rash. This rash starts as red, raised bumps all over the patient's skin. In many patients, these bumps become blisters that eventually pop. This is when they can crust over. Other chickenpox symptoms include fever, headache, appetite loss, and a general feeling of being unwell. Of course, this condition is another common reason for swollen lymph nodes. 

Many individuals recover from chickenpox without medical treatment. If medical treatment is necessary, it often comes in the form of topical lotions to help patients avoid scratching. This condition is also mild for the vast majority of patients. Furthermore, there is also a vaccine for chickenpox. Thus, patients cannot get this condition if they have already had it or have had the vaccine.

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Certain Cancers

Certain cancers also cause an individual's lymph nodes to swell. Swollen lymph nodes are especially common in leukemia and several types of lymphoma, including Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Both leukemia and lymphoma are types of cancer that affect the body's lymphatic system. This is why many patients will experience swollen lymph nodes. In fact, some reports indicate that swollen lymph nodes are an early sign of these cancers. However, this is not the most common cause. Doctors begin to suspect cancer after eliminating more common causes, including ones mentioned in this article. In addition, they also look to see when the enlarged lymph node is not tender or painful or has been there more than two weeks without improvement.