What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Lymph nodes play a crucial role in the body's immune system, filtering the lymphatic fluid, a clear fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system. Swollen lymph nodes are a typical response to infections, and they can occur in various parts of the body, such as the neck, armpits, jaw, and groin. This article will explore the reasons behind swollen lymph nodes, their indications, and when to seek medical assistance.

Published on:Feb 1st 2024 |Updated on:Mar 10th 2024
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What are Lymph Nodes?

Lymph nodes are small glands distributed throughout the body, found under the skin in areas like the armpits, jaw, collarbone, neck, and groin. These nodes store white blood cells, essential for combating invading organisms, and act as checkpoints to detect and stop bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells while they pass through the lymph channels. They are the frontline soldiers that protect us from illness.

Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes, particularly those in the neck, sometimes get swollen. The swelling happens due to different causes, such as:  


Swollen lymph nodes are a typical response to infections near the affected nodes. Examples include upper respiratory diseases, such as the common cold, flu, strep throat, mononucleosis, ear infections, sinus infections an  vaginal infections.


Cancerous growth in or spreading to the lymph nodes can cause swelling. Tumors are a common reason for this, and various cancers like leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and certain rare types like Sézary syndrome can lead to lymph node enlargement.

Immune system disorders

 Like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

Other causes

  • Adverse reactions to medications
  • Stress
  • Gingivitis
  • Mouth sores


  • Pain in the swelling site.
  • Redness around the swollen node.
  • Coughing.
  • Sweating.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue.
  • Runny nose.


If experiencing symptoms or noticing swollen nodes, a medical evaluation is crucial. Doctors perform a physical examination, checking the size, tenderness, consistency, and changes in lymph nodes. Blood tests may be ordered to detect diseases, and imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans can further evaluate the lymph nodes. In some cases, an MRI may be necessary, and a lymph node biopsy might be performed to analyze cell samples for diseases like cancer.


Preventing conditions leading to swollen lymph nodes involves practicing good hygiene, getting vaccinated against certain diseases, avoiding sharing personal items with infected individuals, and maintaining overall health through proper dental hygiene and handwashing.

When to See a doctor?

It's crucial to consult a doctor if experiencing symptoms accompanying swollen lymph nodes or if the swelling persists or is painful. Factors such as the size, tenderness, and duration of the swelling and other associated symptoms help determine the urgency of medical attention.


The treatment of swollen lymph nodes depends on the underlying cause. Antibiotics or antiviral medications may be prescribed for infections, while pain relief medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help manage discomfort. Cancer-related swollen nodes may require tumor removal or chemotherapy. The appropriate treatment is made in consultation with a healthcare professional.


Swollen lymph nodes are signs of the immune system combating infections or illnesses. While they are usually not severe, persistent or painful swelling may indicate underlying issues such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. Prompt medical advice is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, ensuring the best possible outcomes. Regular check-ups, awareness of symptoms, and a proactive approach to healthcare contribute to overall well-being.

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Omooma is the first Online platform offering classes in Arabic dedicated to mothers and mothers-to-be. In addition to content covering many relevant topics, women’s health, pregnancy, fertility, child’s health, and parenting. Omooma’s articles are written by medical writers, based on extensive research, and reviewed by a panel of experts who are part of the largest team of experts available in the region in all fields related to the journey of motherhood.

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