How Can Swollen Lymph Nodes Be Treated?

How Can Swollen Lymph Nodes Be Treated?

Treatment of swollen or enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) depends on the cause of the swollen lymph node. Sometimes without any treatment the lymphadenopathy go away spontaneously.

Infections

  • Treating the infection will resolve the swollen lymph node. The lymph node may remain swollen & firm long after the initial infection is cured.
  • Usually most of the upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses will resolve spontaneously & the swollen lymph node will also resolve spontaneously after the infection is cleared.
  • Antivirals should be prescribed to disease that really needs treatment with antivirals. If you are swollen lymph nodes are due to HIV infection you have to get specific treatment for that HIV as well.
  • Bacterial infections should be treated with appropriate antibiotics.
  • Protozoal & fungal infections should be also treated appropriately & the swollen lymph node will also resolve with that.
  • If you have any worry about the lymph node not resolving even after treatment you can consult a doctor. The doctor will do more investigations to diagnose or rule out other causes.

Anti-Inflammatory/ Autoimmune Conditions

If your swollen nodes are due to rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, serum sickness then the appropriate treatment for those conditions will resolve the swollen node. Your doctor will prescribe the required medication.

Malignancy

The stage & the grade of the cancer are important in the treatment of lymphadenopathy due to primary or secondary malignancy. Swollen node may not resolve until the cancer is treated. Primary malignancy should be treated & then treatment of the lymph nodes can be carried out by:

  • Surgically removing the lymph nodes involved
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Can combine the above methods & treat as well

Other Treatments & Home Remedies

If the swollen lymph nodes are painful you can ask your doctor for a pain killer. The usual pain killers that can be taken are paracetamol, ibuprofen, & naproxen. Be cautious about taking NSAID’s (ibuprofen, naproxen) as these can cause gastritis, ulcers in the stomach & intestines, if so you need to take it with a proton pump inhibitor. Also remember pain medication is not the treatment for swollen lymph nodes, when the cause is cured lymph nodes will resolve.

Applying a warm compress. This is something you can do at home easily, dip a piece of clean cloth in hot water then gently wrung it out in the affected area. The heat reduces the inflammation & relieves the pain.

Have adequate rest until your underlying condition is cured.

Your doctor will arrange a follow up visit to see whether your condition has improved, if not the doctor will decide what further investigations, treatment needed for you.

Swollen Lymph Nodes Complications

The following complications may occur:

  • Superficial lymphadenopathy
  • Cellulitis
  • Abscess formation
  • Systemic involvement – septicemia
  • Mediastinal lymphadenopathy causes pressure symptoms & serious complications
  • Superior vena cava syndrome
  • Dysphagia
  • Tracheal & bronchial obstruction
  • Haemoptysis
  • Lymphadenopathy associated with malignancy
  • Uric acid nephropathy
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Hyperphosphatemia
  • Renal failure
  • Abdominal lymphadenopathy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Intestinal obstruction

Summary

Treatment of swollen lymph nodes is directed towards treating the cause of the lymphadenopathy. Some swollen lymph nodes go away without any treatment. If lymphadenopathy is due to an infection it should be treated & the lymphadenopathy will subside afterwards. Anti-inflammatory conditions should be also treated appropriately. If the swollen lymph nodes are due to malignancy, the primary malignancy should be treated & treatment of swollen nodes may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or combination of these. Other treatment remedies include pain medication to reduce the pain, applying warm compresses & adequate rest. If lymphadenopathy is not treated properly, then there can be complications due to it.

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