Chronic lymphadenitis is inflammation or infection of a lymph node for an extended time. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system. This system fights and prevents infections. The lymph node’s job is to filter out unwanted substances, such as bacteria and viruses, and help eliminate them from the body.
Lymph nodes occur in clusters in the neck, arm pits, and groin. Chronic lymphadenitis may affect one node, several nodes in one area, or nodes in many areas of the body.
The sooner chronic lymphadenitis is treated, the more favorable the outcome, depending on the cause. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.
Lymph nodes normally swell when fighting off an infection. In cases of more serious infection, the swelling may be prolonged. Lymphadenitis is usually caused by an infection that has spread to the lymph nodes from a skin, ear, nose, or eye infection. Other causes of lymphadenitis include:
Factors that may increase your chance of developing chronic lymphadenitis include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to chronic lymphadenitis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and tissue may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with ultrasound.
Treatment of chronic lymphadenitis depends on the cause. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Hot, moist compresses on the lymph nodes can help relieve pain.
Surgery may be necessary to drain pockets of pus if they occur.
To help reduce your chances of getting chronic lymphadenitis, take the following steps:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
Lymphadenopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 19, 2012. Accessed April 3, 2013.
Lymphadenitis/lymphadenopathy. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta website. Available at: http://www.choa.or... . Accessed April 3, 2013.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 4/3/2013