What are swollen lymph nodes?

Swollen lymph nodes are enlarged lymph nodes, which are very small clusters of immune cells that function as part of the body’s immune system. There are more than 600 lymph nodes throughout the body, but the ones most frequently enlarged or swollen are found in the neck, under the chin, in the armpits, and in the groin.

Swollen lymph nodes are also known as lymphadenitis, lymphadenopathy, swollen nodes, or swollen glands. They can occur in any age group or population, but generally occur most often in children.

Your body relies on the lymphatic system to fight off germs, infections, and abnormal substances such as cancer cells. Lymph nodes are an important part of your body’s immune system. Swollen lymph nodes can result from infection, malignancy and autoimmune disorders.

Swollen lymph nodes due to a viral infection often get better without treatment. However, some infections that are due to bacteria or other pathogens need medical attention. Seek prompt medical care if your lymph nodes have been swollen for more than two weeks, or are red, tender, hard, or irregular feeling, or if swelling is increasing.


What other symptoms might occur with swollen lymph nodes?

Swollen lymph nodes often occur with other symptoms that vary in severity depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Symptoms that may occur along with swollen lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes may occur with other symptoms including:

  • Bleeding gums

What causes swollen lymph nodes?

The most common causes of swollen lymph nodes are viral infections, such as the common cold, and bacterial infections, such as strep throat. Immune system disorders and some types of cancer can also lead to swollen lymph nodes.

Common infectious causes of swollen lymph nodes

The more common infectious causes of swollen lymph nodes include viral and bacterial infections.... Read more about swollen lymph nodescauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: May 7, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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.