Painful Lymph Nodes
A Helpful Guide To Why You Have Painful Lymph Nodes
If you happen to have painful lymph nodes, it is usually a sign that you need to see your doctor because it typically is an indication that your body is fighting off some kind of infection. The pain usually accompanied by other symptoms, offering an indication of severity for diagnosis.
What Are Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes are bean-shaped, tiny glands that are found in various areas of your body, primarily under your arms, on your neck and in the groin area. Your body has more than 300 of them that filter foreign elements along with white blood cells.
The lymphatic system moves waste substance, lymph node fluids and nutrients through your tissues and bloodstream. Every lymph node in your body plays a key role for the health of your immune system. Lymph nodes catch viruses and bacteria and filter fluid. White special blood cells work to destroy these unwanted materials in your body.
You know that painful lymph nodes are a sign of illness because a healthy one does not hurt to touch, nor is it sensitive at all. It is interesting to note that children between 10 and 12 years of age typically have twice as large lymph nodes than adults so what you may feel is enlarged, may actually be normal.
When To See A Doctor
Since painful lymph nodes can be a sign of something minor or a serious illness, it is helpful to know what to look for either way so that you know if you need to seek medical attention.
- Minor Concern – Check your lymph nodes that are beneath your jaw, in your neck, to see if they are swollen. They should be no more than one inch in size if they are healthy. Also, if the pain was sudden, it is probably just a small bump in your system and not necessarily something too severe. You may also want to look at your medical records and see if there was anything that occurred recently that could be causing the pain. For example, some types of vaccines and drugs can cause delayed painful lymph nodes.
- Major Concern – Check to see whether your lymph nodes feel soft or hard. If they happen to be soft that means that they are losing a battle against an infection in your body. Also, if they are larger than one inch, this is another sign of a significant infection. You can also tell if your painful lymph nodes are serious if they are pink or red because this represents a severe infection that is definitely not under control. You may also want to watch to see if they are accompanied by fever, tiredness, night sweats and weightless as these can be signs of mono or lymphoma.
There are a multitude of illnesses that could be causing your painful lymph nodes such as lupus, mumps, gingivitis, measles, tonsillitis, leukemia, pharyngitis, lymphoma, tuberculosis, strep throat, West Nile virus, mono, ear infections, cat scratch fever, infected wounds, rheumatoid arthritis, abscessed tooth, rubella, genital herpes, HPV, syphilis, human immunodeficiency virus and Hansen's disease.
Treatment For Minor Pain
If it is determined that your painful lymph nodes are due to a minor illness, you can usually receive a bit of relief by applying warm heat such as a warm wash cloth or heating pad to them. It may also be helpful to take a pain reliever such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
If your pain and swelling in your lymph nodes is accompanied by any other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and get started with proper treatment.