What is Lymphadenitis?

Lymphadenitis can be defined as enlargement in one or more lymph nodes, usually due to infection. The body has approximately 600 lymph nodes that help fight infections but only a few names, the submandibular, axillary, or inguinal regions are normally palpable in healthy people. Although findings of enlarged lymph nodes often raise a concern about serious illness such as cancer, most cases of lymphadenitis are the result of benign infectious causes and self-limited.

 Lymphadenitis can be classified into 2 type:

  • Localized:  If enlarge lymph nodes is present in only one area of the body
  • Generalized: If enlarge lymph nodes are present in two or more noncontiguous areas

What causes Lymphadenitis?

It is usually caused by infectious disease but rarely lymphadenitis or lymphadenopathy can occur due to the non-infectious process. More information on causes of lymphadenitis can be found here

  • Infection causes can be viral, bacterial, fungal and protozoal infections
  • Non-infectious causes can be neoplastic disease, lymphoma, Kawasaki disease, autoimmune disease and medications

What are the symptoms of Lymphadenitis?

  • Fever
  • Lymph nodes that increase in size
  • Painful, inflamed, and tender lymph node
  • Skin redness over the nodes
  • Nodes that are filled with pus 

How to diagnose Lymphadenitis?

Diagnosis is usually made with a patient’s careful history and physical examination.  Localized enlarged lymph nodes should prompt a careful examination of other nodal areas to rule out generalized lymphadenopathy. Sometimes, aspiration and blood culture or excisional biopsy may be indicated. In general, lymph nodes greater than 1 cm in diameter are abnormal and prompt for further work-up.

How to treat Lymphadenitis?

Treatment is directed to the underlying cause of the enlarged lymph nodes and includes:

  • Antibiotics if a bacterial infection is suspected
  • Analgesics for pain control
  • NSAID or other anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation
  • Surgery to drain any abscess formation.

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