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Causes of Swollen Armpit Glands

Swollen armpit glands can be a result of the inflammation caused by an infection or some other body-related issue. Here is a HealthHearty post that gives you all the information about the possible causes.
Kanika Khara
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
Swollen glands generally refer to the enlargement of lymph nodes. These nodes are small bean-shaped tissues enclosed by a number of connective tissues. They are located in the lymphatic system and are commonly found in the sides of the neck, armpits (axilla), and groin area. They filter lymphatic fluid and store white blood cells that can capture cancer cells or harmful bacteria traveling through the body in the fluid itself. Hence, they are essential for the body's immune system and serve as principal sites for many immune reactions to take place.
Causes of Inflamed Armpits
The nodes are not palpable but under certain circumstances, they get enlarged or swollen, and start to ache. Although most of the cases are not very severe and with time, the swelling and discomfort subsides. However, there are some cases that can result in mild to major injuries, infection, and even cancer. Hence, such conditions should not be ignored and you should seek immediate medical attention.
Bacteria
One of the most common cause is a bacterial infestation. An infection can inflame the axillary lymph nodes and destroy their functionality. Staphylococci, streptococci, E. coli, and salmonella are some of the bad bacteria that can affect the lymph nodes and cause the swelling.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
It is a kind of cancer that prevails in the immune system cells or the white blood cells. As we know that lymphatic system is part of our immune system which helps combat various health ailments, in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes―a type of white blood cells. Formation of a bump in the groin area or armpits, swollen nodes, abdominal pain, etc., are some of the common symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism
Painful glands can also be a symptom of hyperthyroidism. It is a condition that occurs due to over production of the thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland. The condition may prevail due to inflammation of the thyroid gland, excessive iodine intake, or some disorders like Graves' disease, adenoma, etc. Apart from the swelling, a person may also have a fever, irregular heartbeats, weakness, fatigue, and can sweat as well.
Connective Tissue Disease
Another cause is connective tissue disease or degeneration of connective tissue in the body. These tissues form the framework or model for the body, covering and protecting the bones from any damages. Connective tissues are made up of two structural proteins, collagen and elastin, and their inflammation can lead to this condition.
Other Causes
Though rarely, some other causes include reactions to certain drugs, allergies, glycogen storage diseases, Kawasaki disease, sarcoidosis, and certain types of arthritis. Likewise, there can be a possibility during pregnancy, as a pregnant woman's body undergoes various hormonal changes throughout those crucial nine months.
The treatment mainly depends upon its underlying cause. For example, if the cause is bacterial or viral infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. While in some cases, no treatment is required and after a week or so the lymph glands go back to normal. However, in the case of cancer or lymphoma, a biopsy may be conducted to confirm the diagnosis, followed by a surgery or chemotherapy to remove the cancerous growth.