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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Swollen Glands

Swollen Glands

Alternate Names : Lymph Node Enlargement, Lymphadenosis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Swollen "glands," or lymph nodes, refers to enlargement of the lymph nodes in the body.

What is going on in the body?

Lymph nodes are a part of the immune system. Though commonly called "glands," many glands in the body are not related to the lymph nodes or the immune system. For the purpose of this piece, the terms "gland" and "lymph node" will mean the same thing, but this is not always the case. The purpose of lymph nodes is to protect the body from "foreign" invaders. These invaders may be bacteria, viruses, cancer, injury, or other harmful substances. Lymph node swelling may or may not cause pain.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Common causes of swollen glands include:

  • colds
  • throat infections, such as tonsillitis, or strep throat
  • other infections, such as syphilis, rubella, cellulitis, which is a skin infection, infectious mononucleosis, and HIV
  • insect bites and stings
  • autoimmune disorders, conditions in which a person's immune system attacks his or her own body
  • cancer, such as the cancers of the blood called leukemia and lymphoma. Any other cancer that spreads throughout the body can also cause swollen glands.
  • certain medications, such as phenytoin, a medication used to prevent seizures, and hydralazine, a medication used to treat high blood pressure
  • inherited conditions, such as Gaucher disease, a condition that affects metabolism
  • Other causes are also possible. Sometimes the cause cannot be found.


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    Swollen Glands: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 08/06/01

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