“I have inflamed lymph nodes.” This phrase is very common to hear and is usually accompanied by self-checking on both sides of the neck and lower jaw.
In most cases, this is mild inflammation, but sometimes it can indicate the presence of a serious condition. In this article we will explore lymphadenopathy or inflamed lymph nodes, its most relevant causes and warning symptoms.
What are lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes or nodules are a series of structures through which lymph flows. They are responsible for filtering this substance, so that they prevent bacteria or viruses from spreading through the lymphatic system, To integrate it later into the blood vessels.
The lymphatic system it can be considered part of the immune system, Since another of the main functions of the lymph nodes is to contain lymphocytes which fight infections and the entry of pathogens into the body. Thus, they are very relevant in contributing to the immune activity of the body, but they also have relevant functions by absorbing lymphatic nutrients from the digestive system and then directing them to the veins and maintaining a balance in the level of interstitial fluid.
These nodes are distributed in chains all over the body, with some of the areas best known to the majority of the population being the neck (under the chin, on both sides), armpits and groin, abdomen or chest. But the lymph nodes may become infected and inflamed for any reason.
Lymphadenopathy or inflamed lymph nodes
Sometimes the lymph nodes can suffer from some kind of abnormality that makes them inflamed. This disorder is called lymphadenopathy and can appear in a single node or chain or spread throughout the system.
Inflammation of the lymph nodes usually causes harmful and bothersome symptoms. Specifically, it usually appears in addition to the swelling of the node itself. the presence of a feeling of warmth, redness and increased sensitivity in the area. It is also very common for the fever to lose weight, sweating, and pain in the area where the lymph nodes or lymph nodes are located. It is also common for appetite to decrease and for fatigue and breathing problems to appear.
Most people have suffered from some type of lymphadenopathy at some point in their life for one reason or another – it is a phenomenon that can occur at any age and in any condition, but is usually particularly common. in childhood. Have swollen lymph nodes it is not a disorder or disease in itselfRather, it is a symptom of the existence of an infection or some problem.
Possible causes of inflammation
In general, the vast majority of people with inflamed lymph nodes have it due to the presence of mild changes, usually due to a viral or bacterial infection.
Some common causes are the presence of infections such as the flu, suffering from pharyngitis or tonsillitis. Some diseases in which it also appears are chickenpox and measles, mononucleosis or rubella. Sometimes the inflammation persists for a while even after the subject has already finished rejecting a previous infection.
Another possible cause of having swollen lymph nodes can be found in the lack of adequate and complete nutrition, as well as lack of rest and high stress. It can also appear as side effect of taking certain medications.
However, not all causes of lymph node inflammation are always so mild. And that’s it too lymphadenopathy appears in diseases as serious as cancer (For example lymphoma or cancer of the breast, lung or testis), malaria, lupus or venereal diseases such as infection with HIV (in AIDS) or syphilis. Likewise, diseases such as bubonic plague have also caused this inflammation.
Should I be worried? Warning symptoms
While, as we have already said, lymphadenopathy often has causes which are not very serious and tend to go away easily, the truth is that they can also be a symptom of a serious health problem which could even be. put our life in danger.
This is why it is always advisable to consult a doctor at the time of lymphadenopathy to insure its causes and receive treatment, Although we consider the cause to be benign.
However, it is especially urgent to see a professional when the lymph nodes become inflamed in situations where no fever has occurred, there is hardness to the touch, or it is detected that the lymph node has shown sudden growth. While it might sound contradictory, if the inflammation appears painlessly, there may be concern as well. In addition, if the inflammation persists for more than a month after the infection that caused it has disappeared you will have to go to the consultation.
One should also consider whether the inflammation presents itself as hard and stiff or whether it is mobile. While the latter is common in infectious processes, the existence of great rigidity could tell us about a serious disease, such as cancer.
The size of the lymph node is one of the criteria to consider: If they exceed four centimeters, we may be facing a major infection.
Finally, the area where the lymph node is infected should also be considered. For example, having swollen neck lymph nodes is not uncommon and in many cases the causes are usually not serious. The groin is usually associated with infections of the lower extremities or sexually transmitted diseases. As for those located in the clavicle whatever their characteristics, they require a quick visit in consultation, as they tend to be dangerous and can be linked to suffering from some type of cancer.
Treatment for inflamed lymph nodes will largely depend on their cause. Antibiotics will usually be prescribed to treat an infection and / or pain relievers to ease the pain while the infection goes away.
In other cases, it may be necessary to drain the lymph nodes, start specific treatment to treat autoimmune diseases or initiate treatment for problems such as cancer if this diagnosis is confirmed.
- Fauci, A. (2008). Harrison: Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th edition. McGraw-Hill; Inter-American from Mexico.