Fitness Facts: Swollen lymph nodes
By Maggie Sabay
Nurse Practitioner, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
With COVID-19 still raging and as we approach the flu season, it is important to understand one significant symptom that worries most people – enlarged lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes, also known as lymph glands, are part of the lymphatic system and play a vital role in the body’s ability to fight off infections. Lymph nodes are drainage systems that function as filters, trapping viruses, bacteria and other causes of illnesses before they can infect other parts of your body.
Although lymph nodes are located throughout the body, common areas include the armpits, groin and on the neck under the chin.
Swollen lymph nodes show that there is some infection, either viral, bacterial or other forms of infection in the body. Swollen lymph nodes usually follow symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, fever, fatigue or night sweats.
Common causes of enlarged symptoms include:
- Strep throat
- Ear infections
- Tooth abscess
- Skin or wound infections, such as cellulitis
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Other conditions that can cause enlarged lymph nodes include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cancers such as lymphoma and or leukemia
Enlarged lymph nodes are usually benign and return to normal size once the infection improves/resolves. Applying warm compresses several times a day may be helpful.
When to see your primary care provider:
- When lymph nodes appear for no apparent reason – there are no signs of infection.
- They continue to enlarge or have been present for two to four weeks.
- They feel hard or rubbery or don’t move when you push on them.
- They are accompanied by persistent fever, night sweats or unexplained weight loss.
If your enlarged lymph nodes are consistent with and follow upper respiratory symptoms such as nasal congestion, mild sore throat and mild cough, you can manage it at home by treating the viral upper respiratory infection as well as applying warm compresses on the areas. Lymph nodes can remain enlarged for about 1-2 weeks.
If your enlarged lymph nodes are accompanied by conditions other than viral symptoms, please schedule with your primary care provider.
You can schedule an appointment at Canyon Health and Wellness clinic online or by calling 602-639-6215. Remember to wear a mask and maintain social distancing and good hand hygiene.