Skip to main content


Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is adenitis?

Adenitis is a condition that causes your lymph nodes to become swollen and tender. You may also have a fever. Adenitis is a sign of infection usually caused by bacteria.

What increases my risk for adenitis?

  • IV drug use
  • Contact sports
  • Animal bites or scratches
  • Infection in your mouth and throat
  • Recent surgery or hospital stay

How is adenitis diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will examine you to find the cause of your adenitis. A biopsy of the swollen node may be needed. You may need any of the following to treat adenitis:

  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply moist heat on your swollen lymph nodes for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours or as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and swelling. You can make a moist heat pack by soaking a small towel in hot water. Let it cool until you can hold it with your bare hands. Then wring out the extra water. Place the towel in a plastic bag, and wrap the bag with a dry towel around the bag. Place the pack over your swollen lymph nodes.
  • Elevate your head and upper back. Keep your head and upper back elevated when you rest, such as in a recliner. Place extra pillows under your head and neck when you sleep in bed. Elevation helps decrease swelling.

What can I do to prevent an infection?

  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
  • Cover a sneeze or cough. Use a tissue that covers your mouth and nose. Throw the tissue away in a trash can right away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Wash your hands well with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.
  • Clean surfaces often. Clean doorknobs, countertops, cell phones, and other surfaces that are touched often. Use a disinfecting wipe, a single-use sponge, or a cloth you can wash and reuse. Use disinfecting cleaners if you do not have wipes. You can create a disinfecting cleaner by mixing 1 part bleach with 10 parts water.
  • Ask about vaccines you may need. Vaccines help prevent diseases caused by some viruses and bacteria. Get the influenza (flu) vaccine as soon as recommended each year. The flu vaccine is usually available starting in September or October. Flu viruses change, so it is important to get a flu vaccine every year. Get the pneumonia vaccine if recommended. This vaccine is usually recommended every 5 years. Your provider will tell you when to get this vaccine, if needed. He or she can tell you if you should get other vaccines, and when to get them.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have trouble breathing or swallowing.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have new or worsening redness or swelling.
  • You develop a large, soft bump that may leak pus.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your symptoms do not improve after 10 days of treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Learn more about Adenitis

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.