Swollen Lymph Nodes -- Top 10 Causes
and Remedies

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Last updated July 15, 2017 (originally published July 10,

By Katrina Devine, Contributing Columnist and Susan
Callahan, Associate Editor

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board]

We’ve all experienced that tender feeling in our throats or
jaws when we’re sick. Those are our lymph nodes. Lymph
nodes are vital to our well being so when something goes
wrong we know that we have a problem. Luckily however,
there are only a few very serious conditions that attack our
lymph nodes. The rest simply require some TLC.   

Where Are Your Lymph Nodes?  

Lymph nodes are also commonly called glands. According
to the National Institutes of Health, there are several places
on the body where they can become swollen: the groin, the
armpit, the neck, under the jaw and chin, behind the ears,
on the back of the head.   

As the U.S National Library of medicine explains, lymph
nodes are a vital part of your immune system. They process
the fluids and rid the body of infection by releasing white
blood cells. "Lymph" basically is all the fluid in your body
other than blood. Think of it as your body's water. In fact,
the word "lymph" comes from the word "Lympha", the
Roman God of fresh water (in contrast, the god Neptune
ruled the seas).

When the lymph nodes are malfunctioning, fluid builds in
the tissue and the area of the lymph node becomes swollen
and inflamed.   

Here are the Top 10 most common causes of swollen lymph

Colds, flus: Colds and flu, according to the U.S National
Library of Medicine, are the most common causes of
swollen lymph nodes. The infection overwhelms the lymph
nodes and they become inflamed. This is one of the reasons
that your body feels tender when you have a cold or flu.

Depending on your other symptoms, it may be necessary to
visit your doctor. Otherwise drink plenty of fluids, get rest
and try these
home remedies for the common cold.

2. Ear infection: Another kind of infection that may to be to
blame for swollen lymph nodes particularly in the neck is an
ear infection.

A study completed at the Department of Pathology,
University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
in 2000 examined the relation between infection in the ear
and the lymph nodes of mice. They found that the ear was
a entry way for bacteria and other elements and that the
ear provided a gate way to the lymph nodes. Therefore,
when an infection is present in the ear, it can act upon the
lymph nodes negatively.

The remedy for ear infections include applying warmth to
the area. Some serious cases may require medication.

[Update, Editor's note: One common ear medicine which I
have found effective combines an oil base mixed with an
antiseptic. In Europe, it is sold under the brand name of
"Aurigoutte" and is manufactured by Merck.]  

Some sources you may have come across on the web in
fact recommend that you pour hydrogen peroxide --an
antiseptic -- into your ears to prevent colds. We do not
recommend this as a natural remedy for colds or ear aches,
cheifly because the ear is a delicate and complex body part.
Ear medication is best prescribed by your doctor and not
cooked up at home.]

Tooth ache and Rotten Teeth: A study conducted by the
Department of Otolaryngology, The Royal Infirmary,
Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1984 noted that many patients
suffering from serious tooth decay presented with swollen
lymph nodes. Also 3 out of 5 patients experiencing
difficulty with the development of wisdom teeth presented
with swollen lymph nodes. It is the bacteria that comes
from the rotten tooth that acts upon the lymph nodes.

When you have a rotten tooth, the bacteria from that tooth
pours into your blood stream continuously. The presence
of the bacteria alerts your body's anti-infection defenses,
and thus your lymph nodes may swell.


There are almost 100 bacteria which are more or less
permanent residents in your oral cavities, according to a
1991 study from the Laboratoire de Pathobiologie Orale,
Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire, Université de Nice in France.
These bacteria include Streptococcus, staphylococcus,
Neisseria, Veillonella, Actinomyces, Lactobacillus,
Methanobrevibacter, Haemophilus, Campylobacter,
Bacteroides and Treponema.]

The only way to treat lymph node swelling caused by
rotten teeth is to have the decay removed by a dentist.

No other way around it. You have to see your dentist if you
think your tooth is damaged by rot.

In the meantime, you can try to
reduce the bacteria in your
mouth. Doing so will not only reduce the stress placed on
your lymph system to fight the infection but it will also
decrease your risk for heart disease, according to a 2008
study from the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Portland,

You may also have bacteria beneath your gum line. After
the bacteria is removed from your teeth, you will have to
diligently follow a program of dental hygiene to avoid
repeated infections. In addition to brushing and flossing
every day, you may need to brush your teeth and gum lines
with a paste made of baking soda and 10% solution
hydrogen peroxide  on a timetable prescribed by your
dentist. Avoid using the paste for longer than 10 days, as it
can erode the enamel of your teeth.

Gingivitis: The U.S National Library of Medicine lists this
as a cause of swollen lymph nodes. Gingivitis is also known
as periodontal disease and can cause swollen lymph nodes
if the condition is severe. Similar to toothache, the swollen
lymph nodes are caused by bacteria that enter your body
through your mouth.

The best remedy for gingivitis is prevention. If it is at the
stage where your lymph nodes are swollen you need to
visit your dentist as it is a very serious condition. Normal
teeth hygiene procedures should prevent gingivitis. If you
have just had mouth surgery the dentist will give you an
anti-bacterial wash to prevent infection. (Read more about
natural remedies for gingivitis and how to kill the bacteria
between your teeth.)

Mononucleosis: This is commonly known as the kissing
disease. According to the National Institutes of Health
mono, although most common in teenagers, can actually
develop at any age.

Mono can make your lymph nodes swell. As a way to help
relieve the symptoms of mono including swollen lymph
nodes is to drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If the
condition is very serious a doctor will prescribe medication.

Mouth sores: According to the National Institutes of
Health in some cases c
anker/mouth sores can lead to
swollen lymph nodes. They recommend several natural
remedies including mixing half hydrogen peroxide and half
water and dabbing the area and then applying milk of
magnesia several times a day. (Read more about
causes of
and remedies for tongue sores.)

However, if your lymph nodes remain swollen for an
extended amount of time you should visit a doctor as you
may need stronger treatment.

Sexually transmitted diseases: A study completed in
1955 at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK found that
the herpes simplex virus caused a swelling of lymph nodes.
It is particularly genital herpes that may cause swelling in
the lymph nodes located in the groin area.

Unfortunately there is no known cure for the herpes virus
but if you have think you have contracted the disease you
should visit a health care professional to advise you on
living with the condition.

Tonsillitis: The tonsils and lymph nodes are closely linked
as the tonsils are actually part of the lymphatic system in
the body. Therefore as noted by the 1999 study from the
Basel Institute for Immunology, Marseille, France if you
have tonsillitis you are likely to find an inflammation of the
lymph nodes of the neck in some cases.

The remedies for tonsillitis are varied, the Nation Institutes
of health recommend drinking lots of fluids and resting. If
tonsillitis is persistent then the tonsils may be removed in
some cases especially in childhood.

Skin infections: In particular, the skin infection known as
"cellulitis" can cause swollen lymph nodes. A study
completed by the Department of Surgical Research, Medical
Research Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw,
Poland in 1997 looked at how the bacteria present on the
skin leads to swollen lymph nodes. The condition normally
occurs when a broken skin encounters bacteria. The
bacteria enter the body and the lymphatic system. As
mentioned sometimes the lymph nodes can rid the body of
it but sometimes they malfunction and swell. The swelling
will occur in the lymph nodes closest to the area of the
original infection.

The remedy for cellulitis is again prevention by keeping all
wounds clean.

Serious illnesses: Unfortunately swollen lymph nodes
can be a sign of something very seriously wrong. Very

Cancer can cause swollen lymph nodes.  According to the
CDC there are two main types of lymphatic cancer:
Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The
causes of these cancers are unknown and are usually
discovered when someone presents to a doctor with basic
swollen lymph nodes. Therefore there is no remedy for this
type of swollen lymph node. On the other hand, Hodgkin's
lymphoma is fairly rare, with an incidence of 2.6 out of
100,000 people.

HIV: A study completed in 1995 by the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of
Health, Bethesda explains that the lymph nodes of an HIV-
positive patient are enlarged and do not function correctly.
In a person with HIV the swelling can occur in any part of
the body where a lymph node is located.

Again, the recommended treatment for swollen lymph
nodes is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. If the symptoms
last more than a week, visit your doctor.


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