Lymphadenitis

 

Lymph glands are small oval shaped organs which play a key role in immune mechanisms. You can find lymph nodes in various parts of the body such as armpits, neck, and groin region. Due to some strains of bacteria, your lymph nodes get infected, and this infection is called lymphadenitis.

Causes

When bacteria, virus, or fungi attack the lymph nodes, they get enlarged or swollen up due to inflammation. These are usually found near the site of an infection, tumor or inflammation. Certain skin infections caused due to streptococcus or staphylococcus may increase your risk of developing lymphadenitis. Infections such as tuberculosis and Bartonella also may cause lymphadenitis.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms that you would experience during lymphadenitis are:

  • Red skin (which is tender to touch) over the lymph nodes
  • Swollen and hardened lymph nodes

You may feel that the lymph nodes are rubbery to touch in case they are filled with pus or have become inflamed.

Complications

The common complications that may occur due to lymphadenitis are:

  • Sepsis (a potentially life-threatening condition)
  • Fistulas (abnormal connections between two body parts)
  • Cellulitis (skin infection which involves redness and swelling)
  • Abscess formation (collection of pus within the tissues)

Diagnosis

The doctor will perform a physical examination. This lets him, or her understand the extent of swelling or sensitivity of your lymph nodes. Your doctor would order for blood tests to check for the infections, X-rays and CT scans to check for the presence of tumors or for finding the source of infection.

To rule out other possible conditions, your doctor would order for a lymph node biopsy. This is a short procedure which involves the removal of a sample of tissue from the lymph node. The sample is then tested for the cause.

Treatment

Immediate treatment is required for lymphadenitis because it spreads within no time. The treatment options may include:

Antibiotics

If the cause of lymph nodes swelling is an infection, then your doctor would prescribe an ideal dose of antibiotics to fight the infection causing bacteria.

Analgesics (pain killers)

Your doctor prescribes painkiller such as ibuprofen. This helps in reducing the pain as well as the temperature of the body. You must also use a cold compression and elevate the swollen area to reduce the swelling.

Abscess draining

If you notice any abscess filled with pus, then your doctor would drain it by making a small sterile cut. Later the area is packed with gauze for healing.

Cancer management

If there is an evidence of cancer of the lymph node, your doctor would recommend for a surgery which involves removal of the tumor in the lymph node. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy is also suggested.