There are about 600 lymph nodes in the human body. Lymph nodes and the lymph are responsible for detection and removal of infectious organisms and as the result these lymph nodes may enlarge. This condition is known as lymphadenopathy and may be caused by many different things. There are benign lymph nodes enlargement and those of malignant nature. Additionally, there are “shotty” lymph nodes in the human body, which may become palpable after some viral infection.
Enlargement of the lymph node(s) is very common problem in children. The causes of benign lymphadenopathy are usually immune response to some infection in the body (of fungal, bacterial or viral origin) and some infections of the lymph node.
Metastasis of neoplastic changes in the body (more precisely the neoplastic cells carried through the lymph or blood flow), some neoplastic proliferation of macrophages or lymphocytes, such as leukemias and lymphomas and storage disorders when the macrophages filled with metabolite deposits infiltrate the lymph node may provoke malignant enlargement of the lymph node.
In children, lymphadenopathy should be diagnosed fairly quickly, in order to calm down worried parents. Duration of this condition is usually predominant factor in therapy. What parents should know is that benign problems related to enlargement of lymph nodes usually last for 4 to 6 weeks, while progression of the symptoms or persistent enlargement of lymphadenopathy could indicate malignant change.
Common Causes of Benign Enlargement of Lymph Nodes
Localized enlargement of lymph nodes is generally associated with some abnormalities like infection of the area of the body which this lymph node drains. However, localized condition may also point to progressive systemic disease in some cases.
Acute bacterial infections, especially with Staphylococcus aureus or group B of Streptococci are very often seen to cause benign lymphadenopathy. These bacteria can provoke tenderness and warmth of the lymph nodes and erythema and edema of the surrounding tissue.
Lymhadenopathies and Enlargement of Submental Lymph
Occipital and preauricular lymhadenopathies are usually benign problems, caused by infections of the outer ear, scalp, toxoplasmosis or some exenthematous disease, as well as infections of the middle ear, parotid glands or superficial tissue of the orbit.
Enlargement of submental lymph nodes may be provoked by disorders of the mouth, lower lip, nose, maxillary sinus, salivary gland or submandibular part of the face.
Inflammations, STD's and Other Causes
Inflammation of the hypopharynx, larynx, thyroid gland or esophagus may be responsible for laterocervical lymphadenopathy.
A person suffering from axillary or inguinal enlargement of the lymph nodes may have infection of the arms, intrathoracic lesions, chest wall or breast tissue. STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and some other infections of pelvis and perineum may also lead to inguinal lymphadenopathy.
Infections of the foot and leg could provoke popliteal lymphadenopathy, while compression of the surrounding structures may result in enlargement of lymph nodes in the mesentery, retroperitoneum or mediastinum.