Swollen Lymph Nodes (Lymphadenopathy)

Swollen Lymph Nodes (Lymphadenopathy) Symptoms & Signs

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Symptoms & Signs

Gland swelling commonly refers to enlargement of the lymph glands, also known as lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small rounded or bean-shaped masses of lymphatic tissue surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph glands (nodes) are located in many places in the lymphatic system throughout the body. Lymph nodes filter the lymphatic fluid and store special cells that can trap cancer cells or bacteria that are traveling through the body in the lymph fluid. The lymph nodes are critical for the body's immune response and are principal sites where many immune reactions are initiated.

Groups of lymph nodes are found in the neck, around the collarbone, in the armpit (axilla), and in the groin. Lymph nodes in the groin region are referred to as inguinal lymph nodes. During a physical examination, a doctor may feel (palpate) these areas to look for swollen or enlarged lymph glands.

Swelling of the lymph glands is typically a result of local or widespread inflammation, but sometimes enlarged lymph nodes are due to cancer. Swollen lymph glands are referred to as lymphadenopathy. Inflammation of a lymph node is referred to as lymphadenitis.

Symptoms of swollen lymph nodes include

  • localized pain,
  • swelling,
  • tenderness, and
  • warmth in the involved area.

Sometimes swollen lymph nodes cause no symptoms (referred to as asymptomatic lymph node swelling). Symptoms that can be associated with lymph node swelling, depending on the cause, include

Other glands that are sometimes perceptible when swollen are the tonsils, parotid glands, salivary glands, tear (lacrimal) glands, and the thyroid gland.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/8/2017

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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      • What specialists treat Mycobacterium marinum infections?
      • What tests are available to diagnose a Mycobacterium marinum infection?
      • Do fish get infected with Mycobacterium marinum?
      • What is the treatment for a Mycobacterium marinum infection?
      • What is the prognosis for those infected with Mycobacterium marinum?
      • What are possible complications from Mycobacterium marinum?
      • What else could it be?
      • How can I prevent this infection?
    • Neck Pain (Cervical Pain) Neck pain (cervical pain) may be caused by any number of disorders and diseases. Tenderness is another symptom of neck pain....learn more »
      In This Article
      Neck Pain (Cervical Pain) Article
      • What is neck pain? What are causes and risk factors for neck pain?
      • What are other symptoms that are associated with neck pain?
      • What are the structures of the neck?
      • What specialties of doctors treat neck pain?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose neck pain?
      • What is the treatment for neck pain? What are home remedies for neck pain relief?
      • What is the prognosis for neck pain?
      • Is it possible to prevent neck pain?
    • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, a vital part of the body's immune system. Symptoms and signs include...learn more »
      In This Article
      Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Article
      • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) facts
      • What is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What is the difference between non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease (or Hodgkin's lymphoma)?
      • What causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk factors?
      • What are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma symptoms and signs?
      • What kind of doctors treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • How do physicians diagnose non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What are the types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and how is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma staging determined?
      • What is the treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What is the prognosis and survival rate for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • Is it possible to prevent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • What is the latest research on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
      • Where can people find more information about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
    • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer vs Small Cell Lung Cancer Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) consist of large cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas. Small cell...learn more »
      In This Article
      Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer vs Small Cell Lung Cancer Article
      • What is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?
      • What is small cell lung cancer (SCLC)?
      • NSCLC vs. SCLC similarities and differences
      • What are causes and risk factors for non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
      • Is it possible to have non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer at the same time?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
      • What tests do health care professionals use to diagnose non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
      • What are the stages of non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
      • What are treatments and medications for non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
      • What is the prognosis of non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
      • Is it possible to prevent non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer?
    • Onchocerciasis Onchocerciasis, or river blindness, is a parasitic disease that may cause blindness. It is transmitted by the bite of a female...learn more »
      In This Article
      Onchocerciasis Article
      • Onchocerciasis facts
      • What is onchocerciasis?
      • What causes onchocerciasis?
      • What are risk factors for onchocerciasis?
      • Is onchocerciasis contagious?
      • What are onchocerciasis symptoms and signs?
      • Is there an incubation period for onchocerciasis?
      • What types of specialists treat onchocerciasis?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose onchocerciasis?
      • What is the treatment for onchocerciasis?
      • Is it possible to prevent onchocerciasis?
      • What is the prognosis and possible complications of onchocerciasis?
    • Pericoronitis Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around the molars. Pericoronitis commonly occurs in teens or young people when...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pericoronitis Article
      • What is pericoronitis?
      • What causes pericoronitis?
      • What are risk factors for pericoronitis?
      • What are pericoronitis symptoms and signs?
      • What specialists treat pericoronitis?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose pericoronitis?
      • What is the treatment for pericoronitis?
      • Are home remedies effective for pericoronitis?
      • What is the prognosis for pericoronitis?
      • Is it possible to prevent pericoronitis?
    • Plague (Black Death) Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. Transmission to humans occurs via fleas that have bitten...learn more »
      In This Article
      Plague (Black Death) Article
      • Plague (Black Death) facts
      • What is plague? What is the history of plague?
      • What causes plague?
      • What are risk factors for plague?
      • What is the incubation period for plague?
      • What are plague symptoms and signs? What are the different types of plague?
      • Is plague contagious? How is plague transmitted?
      • What is the contagious period for pneumonic plague?
      • How do physicians diagnose plague?
      • What is the treatment for plague?
      • What is the prognosis of plague?
      • Is it possible to prevent plague? Is there a plague vaccine?
      • Could plague be used as a biological weapon?
    • Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD) Primary immunodeficiency disease or PIDD is a group of over 250 genetic diseases that involve the immune system. Symptoms of...learn more »
      In This Article
      Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD) Article
      • Primary immunodeficiency disease definition and facts
      • What is primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • What are the types and examples of primary immunodeficiency diseases?
      • What causes primary immunodeficiency disease and who gets primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • Is primary immunodeficiency disease inherited?
      • Which types of doctors treat primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • How is primary immunodeficiency disease diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • How can I help care for my child with primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • Can primary immunodeficiency disease be prevented?
      • What the prognosis for a child with primary immunodeficiency disease?
      • What support groups are available for primary immunodeficiency disease?
    • Roseola Roseola is a viral illness that most commonly affects young children. Symptoms and signs include a sudden high fever that lasts...learn more »
      In This Article
      Roseola Article
      • Roseola facts
      • What is roseola? Is roseola contagious?
      • What virus causes roseola?
      • How is roseola spread? What is the incubation period for roseola?
      • What are roseola symptoms and signs?
      • What specialties of doctors treat roseola?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose roseola?
      • How high can the fever go with roseola?
      • What are home remedies for roseola?
      • What is the treatment for the fever of roseola?
      • What should one do if his or her child with roseola has a seizure?
      • Can the fever cause a seizure?
      • Is a seizure due to fever dangerous?
      • Is there a rash with roseola?
      • What is most remarkable characteristic of roseola?
      • How long does roseola last?
      • Are there any complications of roseola?
      • Should a child with roseola see a doctor?
      • When can the child return to child care?
      • Is it possible to prevent roseola?
      • What is the prognosis for a child with roseola?
      • Are there other names for roseola?
    • Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis, a disease resulting from chronic inflammation, causes small lumps (granulomas) to develop in a great range of body...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sarcoidosis Article
      • Sarcoidosis facts
      • What is sarcoidosis?
      • What are causes and risk factors of sarcoidosis?
      • What are signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis?
      • Who gets sarcoidosis?
      • What do we know about sarcoidosis? Is sarcoidosis contagious or hereditary?
      • What are some things we don't know about sarcoidosis?
      • What types of doctors treat sarcoidosis?
      • What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose sarcoidosis?
      • What do laboratory tests for sarcoidosis show?
      • What is the treatment for sarcoidosis?
      • What is the prognosis of sarcoidosis?
      • Is it possible to prevent sarcoidosis?
      • Where can a person find more information on sarcoidosis?
    • Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) Scarlet fever, a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash with...learn more »
      In This Article
      Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) Article
      • Scarlet fever facts
      • What is scarlet fever?
      • What causes scarlet fever?
      • What is the incubation period for scarlet fever?
      • What are risk factors for scarlet fever?
      • What is the contagious period for scarlet fever?
      • What are scarlet fever symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose scarlet fever?
      • What is the treatment for scarlet fever?
      • What are complications of scarlet fever?
      • What is the prognosis of scarlet fever? What are the long-term effects of scarlet fever?
      • Is it possible to prevent scarlet fever? Is there a scarlet fever vaccine?
    • Shingles Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache,...learn more »
    • Sjogren's Syndrome Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sjogren's Syndrome Article
      • Sjögren's syndrome facts
      • What is Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What causes Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What are risk factors for developing Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What are Sjögren's syndrome symptoms and signs?
      • How is Sjögren's syndrome diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for Sjögren's syndrome? Will dietary changes improve Sjögren's syndrome symptoms and signs?
      • What are complications of Sjögren's syndrome?
      • Is it possible to prevent Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What is the prognosis for patients with Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What types of doctors treat Sjögren's syndrome?
      • Conclusion
    • STDs in Men Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria,...learn more »
      In This Article
      STDs in Men Article
      • STDS in men: Common infections and facts
      • What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
      • Who is at risk for STDs?
      • What causes STDs in men?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of STDs in men?
      • List of STDs in men
      • 1. Chlamydia
      • 2. Gonorrhea
      • 3. Trichomoniasis
      • 4. HIV
      • 5. Genital herpes
      • 6. Genital warts (HPV)
      • 7. Hepatitis
      • 8. Syphilis
      • 9. Zika virus
      • Which specialties of doctors treat STDs in Men?
      • How are STDs in men diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for STDs in men?
      • What is the prognosis for STDs in men?
      • Can STDs in men be prevented?
    • Still's Disease Still's disease (systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is a disorder characterized by inflammation with high fever...learn more »
      In This Article
      Still's Disease Article
      • Still's disease facts
      • What is Still's disease?
      • What causes Still's disease?
      • What are risk factors for Still's disease?
      • How does Still's disease relate to juvenile idiopathic arthritis?
      • What are Still's disease symptoms and signs?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose Still's disease?
      • What is the frequency of Still's disease and its features?
      • What is the treatment for Still's disease?
      • Is it possible to prevent Still's disease?
      • What types of specialists treat Still's disease?
      • What Still's disease research is being done?
      • What is the prognosis of Still's disease?
    • Stomach Cancer Though the cause of stomach cancer is unknown, risk factors for stomach cancer include diet, H. pylori infection, smoking age,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Stomach Cancer Article
      • Stomach cancer facts*
      • What is the stomach?
      • What is cancer, and how does stomach cancer spread?
      • What are risk factors and causes of stomach cancer?
      • What are symptoms of stomach cancer?
      • How is stomach cancer diagnosed?
      • How is staging determined?
      • What is the treatment for stomach cancer?
      • Surgery
      • Chemotherapy
      • Radiation therapy
      • How do I go about getting a second opinion?
      • What are some of the nutritional concerns of stomach cancer patients?
      • What are treatment options for cancer that blocks the digestive tract?
      • What follow-up care is necessary for stomach cancer patients? What about complementary and alternative medicine?
      • What support is there for cancer patients?
      • How can I take part in clinical trials for stomach cancer?
    • Strep Throat Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. Signs and symptoms of strep throat include headache, nausea,...learn more »
    • Streptococcal Infections Group A streptococcal infections are caused by group A streptococcus, a bacteria that causes a variety of health problems,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Streptococcal Infections Article
      • Group A streptococcal infections facts
      • What is group A Streptococcus (GAS)?
      • How are group A streptococcal (GAS) infections contracted?
      • What diseases are caused by group A streptococcal infection?
      • Are group A strep infections contagious?
      • What is the contagious period for group A strep infections?
      • What is the incubation period for group A strep infections?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of GAS infections?
      • What is invasive group A streptococcal disease? Who is most at risk for getting invasive GAS disease?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of necrotizing fasciitis?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome (TSS)?
      • How are group A streptococcal (GAS) infections diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for invasive group A streptococcal disease?
      • What specialists treat group A streptococcal infections?
      • What complications are seen with group A streptococcal infections?
      • Is it possible to prevent group A streptococcal infections?
      • What is the prognosis for group A streptococcal infections?
      • Where can people find more information about group A streptococcal infections?
    • Thyroid Cancer There are four major types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Tumors on the...learn more »
      In This Article
      Thyroid Cancer Article
      • Thyroid cancer facts*
      • What is the thyroid?
      • What is thyroid cancer?
      • What causes thyroid cancer?
      • What are the risk factors for thyroid cancer?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of thyroid cancer?
      • What are thyroid nodules?
      • What are the different types of thyroid cancer?
      • How do health care professionals diagnose thyroid cancer?
      • How is thyroid cancer staging determined?
      • What kinds of health care specialists treat thyroid cancer?
      • What is the medical treatment for thyroid cancer?
      • Surgery
      • Thyroid hormone
      • Radioactive iodine (radioiodine)
      • Radiation
      • Chemotherapy
      • What kind of support is available for those with thyroid cancer?
      • What is the prognosis for patients with thyroid cancer? What is the survival rate for patients with thyroid cancer?
      • What is the likelihood of thyroid cancer recurrence?
      • Is it possible to prevent thyroid cancer?
      • What is the latest research on thyroid cancer?
    • Thyroiditis Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland. The inflamed thyroid gland can release an excess of thyroid hormones into...learn more »
      In This Article
      Thyroiditis Article
      • Thyroiditis facts*
      • What is thyroiditis
      • Postpartum thyroiditis symptoms and signs
      • Silent or painless thyroiditis symptoms and signs
      • Subacute thyroiditis
    • Toxoplasmosis Toxoplasmosis (toxo) is a parasitic infection that causes flulike symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches and pains that...learn more »
      In This Article
      Toxoplasmosis Article
      • Toxoplasmosis facts
      • What is toxoplasmosis?
      • What is the cause of toxoplasmosis?
      • What factors increase the risk of acquiring toxo?
      • What are the usual symptoms of toxoplasmosis?
      • Why do some people develop severe problems from toxo?
      • Can toxoplasmosis develop into a more serious illness in babies?
      • What is meant by a baby developing "a more severe case of toxo"?
      • How is toxo diagnosed in the lab?
      • How can toxoplasmosis be prevented?
      • Am I able to keep my cat?
      • Once infected with toxo, is my cat always able to spread the infection to me?
      • What is the treatment for toxoplasmosis?
      • What is the prognosis for toxoplasmosis?
    • Tuberculosis (TB) Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Symptoms and signs of TB include bloody sputum, fever,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Tuberculosis (TB) Article
      • Tuberculosis (TB) facts
      • What is tuberculosis?
      • Are there different types of tuberculosis (TB)?
      • What causes tuberculosis?
      • What are risk factors for tuberculosis?
      • What are tuberculosis symptoms and signs?
      • Is TB contagious, and how long is the incubation period and contagious period?
      • How do physicians diagnose tuberculosis?
      • What is the treatment for tuberculosis?
      • What types of doctors treat TB?
      • What are complications of tuberculosis?
      • What is the prognosis of tuberculosis?
      • How can people prevent tuberculosis?
    • Tularemia Tularemia (rabbit fever) is an infection caused by the Francisella tularensis bacteria. People can become infected with tularemia...learn more »
      In This Article
      Tularemia Article
      • Tularemia facts
      • What is tularemia?
      • What are the different types of tularemia?
      • What causes tularemia?
      • What are risk factors for tularemia?
      • What are tularemia symptoms and signs?
      • Is tularemia contagious, and what is the contagious period for tularemia?
      • What is the incubation period for tularemia?
      • What types of specialists treat tularemia?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose tularemia?
      • What is the treatment for tularemia?
      • Are there home remedies for tularemia?
      • Is there a vaccine for tularemia?
      • What is the prognosis for tularemia?
      • Tularemia and bioterrorism
      • Where can people find more information about tularemia?
    • West Nile Virus West Nile virus (West Nile encephalitis) is a brain infection caused by a virus. People become infected with the virus after...learn more »
      In This Article
      West Nile Virus Article
      • West Nile virus facts
      • What is the history of West Nile virus?
      • Where did the West Nile virus come from?
      • How do people get West Nile virus?
      • How do mosquitoes get infected with the West Nile virus?
      • Is the West Nile virus contagious?
      • Besides mosquitoes, can other insects transmit the West Nile virus?
      • Are there other viruses like the West Nile virus?
      • What are West Nile virus infection symptoms and signs?
      • When is there an increased risk for West Nile virus infection?
      • Who is at risk for getting a West Nile virus infection?
      • What is the treatment for West Nile virus? Is it possible to prevent West Nile virus infection with a vaccine?
      • Is a woman's pregnancy at risk if she gets infected with the West Nile virus?
      • What can a community do to reduce the risk of an outbreak of the West Nile virus?
      • What can a person do to reduce the risk of becoming infected with the West Nile virus?
Other Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Fungal Infection
  • Parasite Infections
  • Silicone Particles in Body (Finger or Toe Joint Implants, Breast Implants)
  • Viral Infections (Most Common Cause of Gland Swelling)
Examples of Medications for Swollen Lymph Nodes


Symptoms & Signs A-Z List