How Long Do Lymph Nodes Stay Swollen?

Swollen lymph node is the indication that body is fighting against the disease whether originated by the internal process or caused by the external stimuli such as bacteria and virus. The internal cause may be cancer or autoimmune disease. The swollen lymph node is nothing when not complimented by the symptoms of the underlying disease. In case of infection, the symptoms experienced may be fever, sore throat or runny nose while in cancer; the symptoms may be night sweats and fatigue. The lymph node swelling in many cases is not reduced even after the removal of infection or even if there is a reduction, the lymph node does not come to its original size.

How Long Do Lymph Nodes Stay Swollen?

How Long Do Lymph Nodes Stay Swollen?

Lymph nodes are the part of defense system of our body. They fight against the infection and gets swollen in the process. Sometimes they become tender suggesting that they have failed to fight against the infection and may contain pus. The time period for which the lymph nodes remain swollen depends upon the type of infection, severity of infection, area of infection and the age. After the infection subsides, the collected impurity in the lymph node is eliminated by the circulation of lymph in the area and the size of the nodes gets reduced. Very often, once the lymph node gets swollen, they do not reduce in size even after the infection is treated, especially in children. Some lymph nodes may become normal, months after the treatment of infection. The disappearance of the lymph node may start almost 2-4 weeks after the treatment, but they rarely come their original size. In some cases, such as moderate to serious infections, lymph node of more than one area gets swollen. The lymph nodes that become permanently swollen even after the infection is treated are known as Shotty lymph nodes. They are small in size and have a Shotty appearance.

Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes

The lymph node provides protection from the infection and is an important part of lymphatic system. There are various reasons due to which lymph nodes may get swollen and increase in size which can be either clearly visible or can be sensed through touch. Following are the conditions in which patient may experience the swollen lymph node:

  1. Infection: One of the primary causes of swollen lymph node is infection. The size of the lymph node depends upon the severity of infection. Further, the time for swelling also depends upon the severity of infection. If the infection is severe, the swelling in lymph node lasts longer. The infection may include ear infection, dental infection, tuberculosis, measles, and toxoplasmosis.
  2. Autoimmune Disease: The lymph node may also get swollen if the body experiences any autoimmune disease. The autoimmune disease may include rheumatoid arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
  3. Cancer: Rarely, cancer may also cause the lymph node swelling. However, the proper diagnosis of the cause of lymph node swelling should be done prior to arriving at any conclusion. The diagnosis of the cause can be done by physical examination of the lymph node and later on advising biopsy. The size of the non-malignant lymph node is smaller and is not growing as compared to malignant lymph node. Further, the node is rubbery to touch and movable in non-malignant while the malignant node is hard to touch and is immovable.


Generally, within 2-4 weeks after the infection, the lymph node comes to their normal size. However, in many cases, the lymph nodes become permanently enlarged even after the treatment of infection. These lymph nodes are Shotty in appearance and normally have the size below 1 cm. These lymph nodes are known as Shotty nodes. It should be noted that these lymph nodes are not the cause of concern as they actually reduced in size but not permanently reduced to original size, in contrast to the malignant lymph node selling which grows in size in a progressive manner.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 15, 2018

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