A lymph node has a small, bean-shaped structure made of clustered cells―lymphocyte and macrophage. It is the combined effort of these two cells that protects you from various unwanted intruders, which can otherwise cause harm to the body. Lymph nodes are found in groups and are located in various parts of the body. The areas where swollen lymph nodes are mostly detected include neck, armpit, groin, and under the chin.
One of the primary causes is infection that can be triggered by a viral, fungal, or bacterial attack. The location of the swollen nodes can give you an indication about the cause that has triggered the infection. For instance, swollen lymph glands in neck is most commonly triggered by common cold, infection of the respiratory tract, measles, mumps, abscessed tooth, etc. Ingrown toenail or any form of infection affecting the foot, groin, or genitals cause enlarged lymph nodes in groin. A secondary infection on any wound or injury in the arms and hands lead to swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. Those who are suffering from autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may get them in various locations of the body. It could be a symptom of certain forms of cancer like lymphoma or leukemia. In such cases, they are hard to touch and immobile.
When you visit a doctor, he/she will try to identify the underlying cause first and then start the course of treatment. A bacterial infection in the respiratory tract or inner ear or tooth is treated with the help of suitable antibiotics. Anti-inflammatory medicines are also given to reduce the swelling. A viral infection like common cold cannot be treated with antibiotics. In such cases, doctors reduce the symptoms like fever and pain with the help of paracetamol. Cough medicines are given for relieving the cough. Serious infections like tuberculosis require strong dose of medicines. Immunosuppressants are used for the treatment of various immune system disorders. The duration of the treatment and medication dosage are decided by the doctor, and one has to follow the same to ensure that the problem is eliminated completely. If they appear like a hard lump (cancerous), then the doctor may conduct a biopsy. In case the report is positive, then the patient has to undergo a cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
These have to be treated under the supervision of a doctor only. Along with the medicinal treatment, you can try out some home treatments to get relief from the discomfort associated with the swelling.
When there is tenderness in the swollen nodes, then it can be relieved with warm/cold compression treatment. For this, you need one bowl of warm water and a bowl of ice-cold water. Firstly, dip a washcloth into the warm water and then place the damp cloth over them for 10 minutes. Then, dampen another washcloth with cold water and put it on the affected nodes for the next 10 minutes. You can repeat this after a gap of every one hour.
Massaging the inflamed nodes can bring down the swelling to some extent. Basically, the nodes swell up when impurities from the lymphatic fluid are trapped and cause blockage in them. When you massage the area with a gentle hand, the blockage is released and they start functioning normally. As a result, the inflammation subsides.
Honey has this amazing natural quality of reducing inflammation in any part of the body. Therefore, it can be used for curing swollen nodes as well. You can put a teaspoon of honey in a cup of warm water and have it. Or else, you can drink a cup of hot tea in which a teaspoon of honey is added.
It may happen that the lymph nodes remain swollen even after the infection has gone. You need not worry about this as it is absolutely normal and it will get back to its original size on its own after some time. During this time, some people, particularly children, often feel the urge to press or squeeze the. This should be avoided as it could be harmful. Make sure to try the above described home remedies for some much-needed relief, and in worst cases, see a doctor at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.