What is adenopathy?

Adenopathy, also referred to as lymphadenopathy, is the enlargement of lymph nodes anywhere in your body. Lymph nodes are a part of your immune system and are where immune cells mature to fight illness. Inflamed lymph nodes often indicate an infection or illness nearby.

The most common lymph nodes that you might notice as enlarged are located in the groin, neck, armpit, under the jaw, and behind the ears. An enlarged lymph node can be painless or tender and can be firm or soft, fixed or freely moveable, depending on the cause of the enlargement.

Specific lymph nodes are associated with specific areas of the body, and the enlargement of a particular lymph node can suggest where an infection might be located. A sore throat, for example, will often result in enlargement of the lymph nodes in your neck. Widespread lymph node enlargement can occur with some generalized infections, and adenopathy may be a result of serious infections, such as HIV.

Adenopathy is fairly common and can occur even with a mild infection. Cancers are another common cause of enlarged lymph nodes. Lymph nodes may be enlarged due to the presence of primary cancers of the lymph nodes (lymphomas) or secondary (metastatic) cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes from other sites in the body. Adenopathy due to cancers tends to produce firm, painless lymph node enlargement, but a biopsy (removal of a tissue sample) is necessary to determine whether an enlarged lymph node is due to cancer.

Seek prompt medical care if your lymph nodes remain persistently enlarged, if the lymph nodes are painless and do not move around easily when pressed, or if you have unexplained weight loss or develop night sweats.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of adenopathy?

Symptoms of adenopathy include enlargement of the lymph nodes anywhere in your body. The nodes could feel firm or soft, and they could be painful or painless. Lymph node enlargements can vary in size, and can be as small as a pencil eraser. In many cases, severe adenopathy is associated with swelling of nearby tissues.... Read more about adenopathysymptoms

CAUSES

What causes adenopathy?

Adenopathy is usually caused by an accumulation of immune cells and fluid inside a lymph node as part of your body’s response to an infection. Adenopathy can also be caused by an abnormal accumulation of immune cells, due to cancer or due to an abscess, causing inflammation.... Read more about adenopathycauses

TREATMENTS

How is adenopathy treated?

Treatment of adenopathy depends on the underlying cause. Adenopathy caused by a bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also be helpful for symptomatic treatment associated with adenopathy.... Read more about adenopathytreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System