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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is lymphadenopathy?

Lymphadenopathy is swelling of your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small organs that are part of your immune system. Lymph nodes are found throughout your body. They are most easily felt in your neck, under your arms, and near your groin. Lymphadenopathy can occur in one or more areas of your body.

What causes lymphadenopathy?

Lymphadenopathy is usually caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Other causes include autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus), cancer, and sarcoidosis.

What are the signs and symptoms of lymphadenopathy?

You may have no symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

  • A painful, warm, or red lump under your skin
  • More tired than usual
  • Skin rash
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Enlarged spleen (organ that filters blood)
  • Fever or night sweats

How is lymphadenopathy diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will check your lymph node for its size and location. You may need the following tests to help healthcare providers find the cause of your lymphadenopathy:

  • Blood tests may show if you have an infection or other medical condition.
  • An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI of your lymph nodes may be taken. You may be given contrast liquid to help the lymph nodes show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A lymph node biopsy is a procedure used to remove a sample of tissue to be tested. Healthcare providers may remove lymph cells through a needle or remove one or more lymph nodes during surgery.

How is lymphadenopathy treated?

Your symptoms may go away without treatment. Your healthcare provider may need to treat the problem that has caused the lymph nodes to swell. Medicines may be given for infections, cancer, or other causes of your lymphadenopathy.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • The swollen lymph nodes bleed.
  • You have swollen lymph nodes in your neck that affect your breathing or swallowing.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new swollen and painful lymph node.
  • You have a skin rash.
  • Your lymph node remains swollen or painful, or it gets bigger.
  • Your lymph node has red streaks around it, or the skin around the lymph node is red.
  • 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.

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