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Recently I have noticed that my son has swollen glands. I took him to doctor to check that out and he determined that he has ear infection. I would appreciate if someone could tell me more about lymph nodes and why they get swollen?

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The term swollen glands refer to enlarged lymph nodes and these nodes are nodules of tissue scattered throughout the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the network of channels that transports lymph, a liquid made up of white blood cells, fats, proteins and clear fluid. Numerous disease-fighting white cells cluster in the lymph nodes, filtering potentially harmful agents out of the lymph and when infection occurs, these cells multiply rapidly, causing the nodes to enlarge. Swollen glands can be caused by common childhood illnesses like chicken pox, measles, strep throat and ear infection like in the case of your son. Also, swelling of the glands develops after administration of DTP vaccine. The majority of swollen lymph nodes are caused by infections. However, in rare instances, lymph node enlargement is a sign of leukemia, lymphoma or other cancer. A hard, immovable and painless swollen node in the area above the collar bone can suggest cancer. Rough and flattened nodes occur in lymphoma and leukemia. Other uncommon causes of swollen lymph nodes include tuberculosis, infection with HIV, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease.
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