Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system and are incharge of drainage of the lymph and capture of the foreign particles. They can get enlarged in certain conditions. The condition of enlarged lymph nodes is medically known as lymphadenomegaly. In majority of cases this enlargement is caused by the infection. Still even more severe diseases can be the cause of the swollen lymph glands.
Symptoms of Lymphadenomegaly
Only the enlargement in which lymph nodes are more than 1 cm in length is considered pathological. The enlarged lymph nodes that are located under the skin can be easily seen and palpated. Other lymph nodes that are present within the body cannot bee seen or palpated. If they get bigger they can compress surrounding tissues and organs and cause specific symptoms. Enlarged lymph nodes within the body can be successfully detected by certain imaging methods such as CT scan or MRI.
Enlarged lymph nodes may vary in size and they are sometimes tender to touch. The skin that covers them may be red and inflamed. Additionally, while palpating the doctor can find whether they are connected to the underlying structures or they can move.
Causes of Lymphadenomegaly
Fortunately, the leading cause of the lymph node enlargement is infection. A viral infection is more likely to lead to lymphadenomegaly comparing to a bacterial infection. Even certain parasitic diseases can cause the enlargement of lymph nodes.
Lymphadenomegalia may be present in certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Even people who are suffering from HIV and AIDS are prone to enlarged lymph nodes.
Unfortunately, lymphadenomegalia may be the sign of malignant disease. Lymphomas are malignant tumors that initially affect lymph nodes and the enlargement of lymph nodes is actually the beginning of the disease. In tumors of other organs in advanced stages cells can detach from the tumor and be kept in lymph nodes. These so called metastases are another cause of lymphadenomegaly. Metastatic cells that are present in enlarged lymph nodes represent poor prognostic sign of the disease.
When to See a Doctor
All the people who notice that their lymph nodes do not reduce in size even after the infection has gone should immediately visit their doctors. Even in case that there was no infection and the person noticed or even palpated enlarged lymph node he/ she should go to the doctor. The persistent enlarged lymph nodes and those which continue growing also need to be examined. This specially refers to those lymph nodes that are fixed or hard.