What Causes Swollen Lymph Glands?

Our glands are a part of our immune system which fights off infection and diseases. Read on to find out more about glands and why they swell.

Have you ever had swollen glands? Maybe your child has swollen glands. Often when glands swell, they become enlarged and even painful to the touch or painful with movement. What causes glands to swell? What are some of the reasons glands swell? Where are our glands and what do they do for our bodies? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this article.

Your glands are a part of your body's lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels, nodes and organs. The lyphatic system helps to maintain the fluid environment, filtering, transporting and producing what is called lymph. The lymphatic system is actually running and spread out throughout the entire body. Some of the more common areas of the body where the lymph nodes can actually be palpated or felt, include, in the neck, under the arms and in the groin area.

The lymph nodes of our lymphatic system are very important to us and to maintaining our health. Lymph nodes play an important part in the body's defense against infections. Swelling of the lypmh nodes may even occur if the infection is minor or even not apparent yet. Swelling of the lymph nodes generally results from localized (meaning the infection is limited to only one certain part or section in your body) or systemic (meaning the infection is throughout the entire body) infection. Abscess and malignancy are other reasons for swollen lymph nodes. Any other reasons for swollen lymph nodes, other than those mentioned in this article, are rare.

We know that lymph glands play an important role in the health and wellbeing of our bodies. This means that the lymph system is a part of our immune system, thus, so are our lymph nodes or lymph glands. Our immune system is our body's ability to fight off infection and diseases. But why do the lymph glands swell? Swelling is a direct result of the white blood cells increasing and attacking the infection. The white blood cells increase and fight the infection faster and harder, thus causing the swelling. As a rule, when swelling occurs suddenly and painfully, it is due to viral or bacterial infection. On the other hand, painless and gradual swelling can mean that the cause is a tumor. If your child has swelling in the neck and into the jaw this is indicative of the mumps and if a rash accompanies the swollen glands, it could be scarlet fever. In either case, a doctor needs to be seen. Ear infections, colds and even small cuts can cause swollen glands as well.

Your glands will become swollen and possibly hard when an infection occurs. They may also be sensitive and even painful to touch. Swollen glands are usually no reason for concern when minor infections are present. The body is actually doing its job. Persistant swollen glands can be the result of a more serious problem and require medical attention.

Cancer of the lymph nodes is another cause of swollen lymph nodes, however, this is unlikely the cause of your swollen lymph nodes because with cancer of the lymph nodes the swelling is slow and painless. There are two types of lymph node cancer. They are Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins. In Hodgkins, this type of cancer usually occurs in people in their 20's to 40's and in Non-Hodgkins it usually occurs in people over 40 years old. Other symptoms that accompany cancer of the lymph nodes include: fevers, profuse night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss, and in later stages itching and coughing may occur.

There is basically no treatment for swollen glands. Swollen glands are just a symptom of a disease and the way the body fights the foreign invader. There are a few things you can do, such as give analgesics or pain relievers (never give aspirin to a child unless specified by the doctor). Also, applying warm or cool moist towels to the site (depending on what is most comfortable), can give some relief.

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