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.
Enlarged lymph nodes owing to an infection are:
- easy to move
- 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
- 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.
- Removal of tissue samples to examine under a microscope (biopsy)
- Blood test (e.g. inflammatory markers)
- 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
Swollen lymph nodes