Lymphadenitis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
What is lymphadenitis?
Lymphadenitis is inflammation or enlargement of one or more lymph nodes. Lymphadenitis occurs usually due to infection. Lymph nodes are also called lymph glands. Lymph nodes or lymph glands are small organs filled with white blood cells that help our body fight infections. The lymph system consists of a network of lymph nodes, lymph ducts, lymph vessels, and organs that produce and move a fluid called lymph from tissues to the bloodstream.
What causes lymphadenitis?
Lymphadenitis is caused mostly by infection by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It is also caused by an infection elsewhere in the body caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. Sometimes, rare infections, such as tuberculosis or Bartonella (cat scratch disease) also cause lymphadenitis.
Certain cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma can also cause lymphadenitis.
What are the symptoms of lymphadenitis?
The main symptom of lymphadenitis is enlarged lymph nodes.
The following are the other common symptoms of lymphadenitis:
- Red, tender skin over lymph node
- Increased size of the lymph node
- Swollen, tender, or hard lymph nodes
- Lymph nodes that are painful to touch
How is lymphadenitis diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical exam and review your symptoms. During the physical exam, the doctor will feel your lymph nodes and look for signs of injury or infection around any swollen lymph nodes.
The doctor may also do a biopsy and culture of the affected nodes to find the cause of the inflammation. A blood culture may also be done to check if the infection has spread to the bloodstream.
How is lymphadenitis treated?
Lymphadenitis should be treated immediately, as it may spread quickly.
The doctor may recommend the following treatment:
- Antibiotics to treat any infection
- Painkillers to help with pain
- Anti-inflammatory medications for inflammation
- Cool compresses to reduce inflammation and pain
The doctor may sometimes recommend surgery to drain an abscess if it is formed.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.