Do Swollen Lymph Nodes Go Away On Their Own?
Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes can be due to various reasons. Most of the lymph nodes go away without any treatment.
Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes or Lymphadenopathy
Infections Causing Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Common upper respiratory infections (viral and/or bacterial)
- Ear infections
- Dental abscess
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Wound or skin infections
- (HIV) Human immunodeficiency virus
- Certain STD’s – sexually transmitted infections, like syphilis
- Toxoplasmosis — a parasitic infection developing from contact with the feces of an infected cat.
- Cat scratch fever — an infection from a cat bite or scratch
Autoimmune Disorders & Hypersensitivity States Causing Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Drug reactions (e.g., phenytoin, allopurinol)
- Serum sickness
Neoplastic & Proliferative Disorders Causing Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Acute leukemia
- Lymphomas (Hodgkin, non-Hodgkin)
What Can You Do If A Swollen Lymph Node Persists?
There are so many causes for swollen lymph nodes, as you see majority of the causes are due to infections. The lymph nodes enlarge because the body is fighting off an infection.
Most of these swollen lymph nodes go away without any treatment after few days or weeks when the infection has passed out. You do not need to really worry about an enlarged lymph node if you have an infection.
If a lymph node remains enlarged you need to meet a doctor if the following features are present
- Any other lymph node/groups are enlarged.
- Lymph nodes which are very large more than 2 inches.
- Lymph nodes that feel hard & which doesn’t move.
- Lymph nodes that remains swollen more than 5 days in children & 2 to 4 weeks in adults.
- The surrounding area of the lymph node turns red.
- If there is sudden increase in size of the lymph node.
- If there is difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
If below mentioned symptoms present:
- Night sweats
- Sudden weight loss
- Continuous fever
If the above mentioned features are present you need see a doctor. Your doctor will take a detail history & examine you completely & the doctor will decide what investigations are needed.
Swollen lymph nodes may become smaller on their own without any treatment. In some cases, the doctor may wish to monitor them without treatment.
There is any infection you doctor will prescribe antibiotics or antivirals to eliminate the condition causing the swollen lymph node. You doctor also might give your pain medication to reduce the pain & inflammation.
For autoimmune/anti-inflammatory conditions pain medication & necessary medication will be prescribed.
Swollen lymph nodes formed because of cancer might not shrink back to normal size until the underlying cancer is managed. Cancer management might involve removing the tumor or any affected lymph nodes. It may also involve chemotherapy to downsize the tumor.
There are many causes for swollen/enlarged lymph nodes. Majority of swollen lymph nodes are following infections. Some common infections that can cause enlarged lymph nodes are upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, dental abscesses, infectious mononucleosis, cellulitis & HIV. The other causes are due to autoimmune/hypersensitivity conditions & malignancy. Most of the swollen lymph nodes go away on its own without any treatment when the infection is cured. If a lymph node persists more than 2-4 weeks in an adult or more than 5 days in child, if it increase in size, feels hard & does not move, if there is breathing or swallowing difficulties, if there is weight loss, night sweats you need to see a doctor & get it checked out.
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