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What are lymph nodes?

The network of lymph nodes and vessels present all over the body is part of the immune system. It collects harmful things like viruses, bacteria, fluid and waste from parts of the body outside the bloodstream.

Hundreds of lymph nodes are placed around the body, and each is responsible for carrying out its job in a particular area.

What causes swollen lymph nodes?

Infections are the most common cause of swollen lymph nodes. These infections can be viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitical.

Inflammation as the result of conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can cause swollen lymph nodes.

Cancers like lymphomas or leukemia can cause swollen lymph nodes. These cancers originate from the lymphatic system. A metastatic spread of other cancers to the lymph nodes is another possible cause of swollen lymph nodes.

Mesenteric Lymphadenitis is the most common cause of swollen abdominal lymph nodes in children and teens. Infections are the most common cause of this as well. Abdominal pain, a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, a lack of energy and a raised white blood cell count are symptoms.

What are the symptoms of swollen lymph nodes?

You may physically notice that your lymph nodes are swollen, and they may also be tender or painful to the touch. Some people don't have any obvious symptoms, and the swollen lymph nodes might be discovered by a doctor during an examination.

Other symptoms depend on the underlying cause of the swollen lymph nodes. You may have a fever, chills, extreme and rapid weight loss, night sweats, or notice hard, quickly growing structures around them.

How are swollen lymph nodes diagnosed?

Swollen lymph nodes are diagnosed through a physical examination or, in the case of deep-lying lymph nodes, an ultrasound or CT scan.

Your doctor will go through your medical history and ask you a series of questions. Blood tests, X-ray, CT scan, and lymph node biopsy can be used to determine the underlying cause of swollen lymph nodes.

How are swollen lymph nodes treated?

Swollen lymph nodes can be treated in a wide variety of ways, but they all have one thing in common: they address the underlying cause.

Lymph nodes that became swollen as the result of a viral infections, they are likely to return to their normal state after the infection has run its course.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial conditions, while HIV infection requires antiretroviral treatment. If immune disorders are at the root of swollen lymph nodes, they need to be treated.

When swollen lymph nodes are caused by cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery may be part of the treatment process.

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