The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system that fights disease and infections. Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped organs that help destroy infectious germs such as viruses and bacteria.
Swelling of the lymph nodes is a condition called lymphadenopathy. Swollen lymph nodes can be a normal occurrence and may not show an underlying disorder or condition or require treatment.
Lymphadenopathy occurs when lymph nodes in a specific area of the body (such as the head, neck, armpits, groin, abdomen or chest area) or throughout the whole body become enlarged. In children, swollen lymph nodes often appear as small, movable lumps under the skin. If a lymph node becomes very swollen, it may indicate an underlying illness.
Lymphadenopathy is a common response to illnesses such as an upper respiratory infection or strep throat.
Symptoms of lymphadenopathy may include:
For a lymph node that is very painful or draining pus, see a doctor immediately.
If your child has swollen lymph nodes, the doctor will do a physical examination and ask about:
There is no one treatment for lymphadenopathy. Treatment is based on the cause. Once your child's doctor has diagnosed the underlying condition that is causing the lymph nodes to swell, he or she will prescribe treatment based on the underlying condition.
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