Swollen lymph nodes

Lymph nodes (or 'glands') are usually the size of a lentil and can't be felt.

Overview

Lymph nodes (or 'glands') are usually the size of a lentil and can't be felt. They grow bigger in particular if you have an infection. They usually shrink again on their own after the disease has run its course.

Symptoms

Enlarged lymph nodes owing to an infection are:

  • easy to move
  • soft
  • often painful when pressed

They can best be seen on the sides and back of the neck, at the angle of the jaw and in the groin.

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Cancer can also cause swollen lymph nodes (metastatic lymph nodes)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Lymph nodes are only examined if no obvious cause for their enlargement can be found.

Possible tests
  • Removal of tissue samples to examine under a microscope (biopsy)
  • Blood test (e.g. inflammatory markers)
Possible therapies
  • Dictated by the underlying cause (usually the infection is treated)

What can I do myself?

  • While you can partly prevent infections, you can't prevent the accompanying swelling of the glands

When to see a doctor?

  • Streaky red lymph nodes (“red streaks under the skin”)
  • New swellings that don’t disappear within two weeks and actually continue to grow
  • Hard, painless lymph nodes that don't move when you press them
  • Involuntary weight loss

Synonyms

Swollen lymph nodes

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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