Chronic Lymphadenitis

(Lymph Node Infection; Lymph Gland Infection; Lymph Node Inflammation; Lymph Gland Inflammation)

Definition

Chronic lymphadenitis is when one or more lymph nodes are infected or inflamed for a long time. Lymph nodes help the body get rid of bacteria and viruses.

They are found in the neck, armpits, and groin.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

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Causes

Lymphadenitis is usually caused by an infection in the skin, ear, nose, or eye. It then spreads to the lymph nodes. Other causes are:

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in children under 12 years of age. Things that may raise the risk are:

  • Having an infection that causes it
  • Being in close contact with someone who has an infection that causes it
  • Having contact with animals

Symptoms

Symptoms are:

  • Swollen, painful, or hard lymph nodes—may be one or many nodes, one area of the body or widespread
  • Skin over a node that is red and warm to the touch
  • Fever
  • Problems swallowing or breathing
  • Neck stiffness

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health past. A physical exam may be done. There are many things that can cause lymph swelling. Tests to find a cause may include:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. Options may be:

  • Medicines such as:
    • Antibiotics to treat infection
    • NSAIDs to reduce inflammation (aspirin may be advised for adults only)
  • Home care such as hot, moist compresses to help relieve pain
  • Surgery to drain pockets of pus

Prevention

The risk of this health problem may be lowered by:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Washing hands regularly
  • Treating infections early

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
https://www.familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

References:

Lymphadenitis. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/infectious_diseases/lymphadenitis_134,80. Accessed January 18, 2021.
Lymphadenopathy in adults—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/lymphadenopathy-in-adults-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed January 18, 2021.
Tzankov A, Dirnhofer, S. A pattern-based approach to reactive lymphadenopathies. Semin Diagn Pathol. 2018 Jan;35(1):4-19.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/18/2021

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