Lymph nodes, sometimes referred to as glands, are small structures located throughout the body. Round and tiny, the lymph nodes are responsible for filtering waste, fluids, and germs, and they play a vital role in the health of the immune system. Although there are hundreds of lymph nodes in the body, the ones most easily felt are located underneath the jaw, on either side of the neck, under the armpits, and on each side of the groin. Lymph nodes typically swell in response to an infection, including an ear infection or an upper respiratory infection. In rare cases, swollen lymph nodes could be an indication of cancer such as leukemia. Patients may wish to check for swelling in a lymph node by gently pressing around the node, and they should compare the feel of this node with the parallel lymph node on the opposite side.
The major warning signs associated with swollen lymph nodes are discussed below.
Tender Or Painful Lymph Nodes
While healthy lymph nodes are not painful, swelling can cause tender or painful lymph nodes. The pain develops as a result of inflammation of the lymph nodes, triggered by an underlying infection. Patients with tender or painful lymph nodes could experience pain during movement. For example, individuals with swollen lymph nodes in the neck might have pain while eating foods that are sticky or difficult to chew, and pain could occur with the bobbing of the head or sudden turning of the head. Painful lymph nodes may swell to the size of a pea or grape. Although they may be painful, swollen lymph nodes should still be soft. If the nodes are hard or fixed to the skin, patients should see their doctor immediately. To relieve the pain from swollen lymph nodes, it may be helpful to apply a warm compress to the area, and gentle massage might be soothing too.
Continue reading to learn more about the warning signs of swollen lymph nodes now.