(Lymph Node Infection; Lymph Gland Infection; Lymph Node Inflammation; Lymph Gland Inflammation)
Chronic lymphadenitis is when one or more lymph nodes are infected or inflamed for a long time.
Lymph nodes help the body get rid of bacteria and viruses. They are found in the neck, armpits, and groin.
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Lymphadenitis is usually caused by an infection in the skin, ear, nose, or eye. It then spreads to the lymph nodes. Other causes are:
Lymphadenitis is more common in children under 12 years old. Things that may raise the risk are:
- Having an infection that causes it
- Being in close contact with someone who has an infection that causes it
- Having contact with animals
Symptoms of lymphadenitis may include:
- Swollen, painful, or hard lymph nodes—may be:
- One or many nodes
- In one area of the body or widespread
- Skin over a node that is red and warm to the touch
- Problems swallowing or breathing
- Neck stiffness
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. There are many things that can cause lymph swelling. Tests to find a cause may include:
- Blood tests
- Lymph node biopsy
The goal of treatment is to get rid of the infection and inflammation. How this is done depends on what is causing it. Treatments may be:
- Medicines such as:
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- NSAIDs to reduce inflammation (kids should not take aspirin as it can cause serious health problems)
- Home care such as hot, moist compresses to help ease pain
- Surgery to drain pockets of pus
The risk of this health problem may be lowered by:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Washing hands regularly
- Treating infections early
- Lymphadenitis. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/lymphadenitis.
- Lymphadenopathy in adults—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/lymphadenopathy-in-adults-approach-to-the-patient.
- Lymphadenopathy in children—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/lymphadenopathy-in-children-approach-to-the-patient.
- Tzankov A. and Dirnhofer, S. A pattern-based approach to reactive lymphadenopathies. Semin Diagn Pathol, 2018; 35(1): 4-19.
- Marcin Chwistek, MD
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