Swollen Lymph Nodes (cont.)
Siamak T. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What are lymph nodes?
- Where are the lymph nodes located in the body?
- Picture of lymph nodes located in the body
- What are the causes of swollen lymph nodes?
- What are the symptoms of swollen lymph nodes?
- How are swollen lymph nodes diagnosed?
- How are swollen lymph nodes treated?
- When should I see the doctor for swollen lymph nodes?
- What are the common lymph nodes that may get swollen?
- What are the complications of swollen lymph nodes?
- Swollen Lymph Nodes At A Glance
- Find a local Internist in your town
What are the complications of swollen lymph nodes?
There may be some complications associated with enlarged lymph nodes. If the lymph node swelling is related to an infection that is not treated, then an abscess (a pus-containing cavity) may ensue, which may require incisional drainage and antibiotics. The skin underlying the enlarged lymph node may also become infected.
In other cases, the lymph node may become very large and compress other nearby structures in the body. This could be a serious and debilitating problem that may require immediate medical or surgical attention. For example, the lymph node in the underarm (axilla) can compress the blood vessels and nerves supplying the arm. An enlarged lymph node inside the abdomen may compress the intestines and cause an obstruction of the intestines.
Swollen lymph nodes At A Glance
- Lymph nodes are important part of the immune system.
- Lymph nodes are located throughout the body, but visible and palpable only when they are enlarged or swollen.
- Lymph nodes are regional, and each group of them corresponds to a particular region of the body and reflects abnormalities in that region.
- In general, infections are the most common causes of lymph node enlargement. Other common causes include inflammation and cancers.
- Not all swollen lymph nodes are abnormal.
Reference: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 14th edition, 1998.
Last Editorial Review: 11/17/2008
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