(Lymph Node Infection; Lymph Gland Infection; Lymph Node Inflammation; Lymph Gland Inflammation)
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.
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Lymphadenitis is usually caused by an infection in the skin, ear, nose, or eye. It then spreads to the lymph nodes. Other causes are:
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
- 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
- Problems swallowing or breathing
- Neck stiffness
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:
- Blood tests
- Lymph node biopsy
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
The risk of this health problem may be lowered by:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Washing hands regularly
- Treating infections early
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
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