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What are lymph glands?

When we say swollen glands, we think of enlarged lymph nodes. The lymph nodes or lymph glands are "filters" located throughout the body that play an important part in the lymphatic system and immune system, and which are commonly situated in the neck, armpits and groins. The main role of the lymph glands, or lymph nodes as they are additionally called, is to filter debris, viruses, and bacteria , as well as to store up the white blood cells which are an essential part of the body’s natural defense system.

Swollen lymph glands, in general, are usually a sign of a viral or bacterial infection. They can also point to cancer in some cases.

Swollen armpit glands

Swollen armpit glands occur when the lymph nodes in the armpit are enlarged, mostly due to a viral or bacterial infection. The armpit glands are also called the axillary lymph nodes.

If you have swollen lymph nodes in one or both armpits, you may be concerned and even panicked. In the majority of cases, however, having swollen armpit glands is not serious and it tends to subside on its own after a while, but there are also cases when it may indicate the presence more serious infections or even cancer; conditions that require medical treatment.

Swollen armpit glands should not be ignored and a doctor should be visited in order to discover the underlying cause of this condition, as well as to receive a proper treatment.

Causes of swollen armpit glands

Swollen armpit glands mainly occur due to some bacterial infection which induces the inflammation of the lymph nodes in the armpits, thus resulting in their enlargement. The most common bad bacteria which usually induce swollen axillary lymph nodes are staphylococci and streptococci, as well as Escherichia coli and salmonella.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the term for a cancer of the white blood cells, which starts in the lymphocytes and which is manifested through the forming of a bump in an armpit or in the groin area, swollen axillary lymph nodes and pain in the abdomen.

An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can also be responsible for the incidence of swollen armpit lymph nodes. Hyperthyroidism usually occurs due to the inflamed thyroid gland, Grave’s disease and adenoma, or when one takes in large amounts of iodine.

When the connective tissues in the body are affected, or when they start to degenerate, it may lead to the incidence of swollen lymph nodes. The degeneration of connective tissues starts when the elastin and collagen are inflamed. Swollen armpit gland may also occur due to taking certain drugs, various allergies, Kawasaki disease and some types of arthritis.

Treatment for swollen armpit glands

If your swollen lymph nodes in the armpit region are a result of a viral or a bacterial infection, then antiviral drugs and antibiotics respectively are likely to be prescribed for the treatment, though viral infections often have no treatment and need to subside on their own with the help of rest and supportive care. If a cancer is the cause of swollen armpit glands, then the treatment options, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are performed for this serious disease.

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