Calcified Lymph Node
Explanation Of A Calcified Lymph Node
A calcified lymph node is generally not a cause for concern and since there are more than 500 lymph glands in your body, there's a lot of opportunity to acquire one. They are typically the result of an inactive, small, old infection that could have been caused by any number of things and then it remains there unchanged. They are generally harmless but sometimes a skin test will be recommended to determine what actually caused the lymph node to calcify.
What Is Calcification?
Calcification refers to the process where calcium salts gradually build up and cause hardening in soft tissue. This is often classified on the location and if there is a mineral imbalance present. However, quite often, a calcification can occur in the body simply due to having a high vitamin D/calcium ratio and this can happen whether you have a mineral imbalance or not.
Understanding The Lymphatic System
To fully understand how a calcified lymph node is developed, it is helpful to learn about the functioning of the lymphatic system. This complex system inside your body consists of ducts, nodes and organs that transport lymph which is a clear watery fluid.
The purpose of this fluid is to distribute immune cells through your body and it also drains fluid from tissues and cells before working with your blood circulatory system. Your lymphatic system contains lymphocytes that work to protect you against bacteria, viruses, etc., that invade your body. An abnormal cell of this type does not cause a calcified lymph node but it can cause lymphoma. The primary jobs of your lymphatic system are:
- Collect and then return interstitial fluid. This includes maintaining a fluid balance by providing plasma protein to your blood.
- Produce lymphocytes to defend your body against disease and infection.
- Absorb lipids out of your intestine and then transport them to your blood system.
The next step to understanding how a calcified lymph node comes to be is by exploring the lymphoid organs. These include the lymph nodes, bone marrow, thymus and spleen. The precursor cells that are in your bone marrow are what produces lymphocytes. The T-cells will mature in your thymus gland while B-cells become mature in bone marrow.
The lymphatic system not only provides the lymphocytes with a home but it also offers a means of transportation for fats and protein.
The lymph nodes in your body are shaped like a bean and can be as small as a few millimeters or as large as two centimeters while they are in their normal state. When there is an infection or tumor present, they will often become enlarged. This is because there are white blood cells in the lymph node structure and their production is enhanced when they feel they need to protect the body. Sometimes, even if you are healthy, some may enlarge because of past infections, which is what a calcified lymph node is a result of.
Are They The Same As A Swollen Lymph Node?
Yes and no. A calcified lymph node is something that you could have for many years while swollen lymph nodes typically refer to something a little more temporary. The majority of these return to their normal size rather quickly all on their own. These are usually seen in the neck, armpit or groin area when your body is working overtime to fight off infection such as strep throat, mono or even the common cold.
Also, if a lymph node becomes overwhelmed from working too hard, it can get infected itself. These will become tender and swollen and can be treated with a warm compress, pain relievers and antibiotics. If they are left untreated they can spread bacteria to your blood stream which is really how swollen lymph nodes differ from a calcified lymph node. One can be dangerous while the other generally is not.