On the neck of the child, rounded seals appeared, which are easily detected by touch, and sometimes even visually noticeable. Parents, as usual, immediately fall into a panic, because everyone from school has learned from biology lessons that they don’t joke with lymph nodes. However, enlarged cervical nodules in children are more common than in adults, and are not always a cause for parental unrest and experiences. Yevgeny Komarovsky, a well-known pediatrician and author of books for adults on children’s health, tells what enlarged nodes on the neck can say, how caring and loving parents should be concerned with this.
About the problem
In medicine, this unpleasant phenomenon has a very specific name – cervical lymphadenitis. It is believed that the lymph nodes increase in response to the penetration of pathogenic microorganisms (viruses or bacteria) into the lymphatic system.
- Sometimes the disease is independent, but it is usually preceded by infected wounds, abscesses, boils. This ailment is called specific.
- Quite often, cervical lymphadenitis is not an independent disease, but one of the accompanying symptoms of some infectious and other diseases. Their list is incredibly long – from tonsillitis and flu to tuberculosis and cancer problems. This ailment is called non-specific.
Lymph nodes are an integral part of the body’s defense system – immune. It is not surprising that small nodules react as part of the avant-garde immunity to any pathological process in the body – one of the first. This applies especially to children whose immune system is generally not mature, perfect and strong. It is for this quite physiologically understandable reason that lymphadenitis in children is much more severe than in adults.
Symptoms are fairly easy to recognize at home, without any prior medical training. In a child, the submandibular, cervical nodes, as well as the nodes located between the lower jaw and the ear, and the occipital nodes are enlarged. The increase can be both significant and small, subtle to the touch.
In some cases, the child’s body temperature rises, appetite disappears, there is pronounced lethargy. On palpation, he feels perceptible discomfort (and even pain).
Acute lymphadenitis with greatly reduced immunity and improper treatment in children can turn into purulent. Chronic suppurative lymphadenitis almost never happens. It is possible to speak about the chronic form of the disease if the child has a cervical lymph nodes with every cold.
Often, a child may have swollen lymph nodes in response to a specific infection in the body – Bartonella. Its carriers are dogs and cats. It is clear that Bartonella penetrates the bloodstream with cat scratches on the skin, which is why this ailment is called cat scratch disease.
You can often notice enlarged lymph nodes in infants during teething. This is due to the enhanced work of the nodules in the composition of the entire immune system at this difficult time for the child.
About cervical lymphadenitis
With complaints of enlarged lymph nodes in the neck of the child, parents often contact a renowned pediatrician. Before answering the question of how to treat this unpleasant ailment, Evgeny Olegovich advises to carefully examine the possible true causes of the increase in nodules. Determining this is not as difficult as it seems. It all depends on the location of the enlarged node:
- According to the pediatrician, an increase in so-called swallow nodes (located at the junction of the lower jaw and the edge of the auricle) is most often caused by pathogens that live in the pharynx.
- If the lymph nodes are inflamed under the lower jaw this is most likely due to infections of the mouth and face. If there is no inflammation in these places, Komarovsky advises to consider the option of infection with atypical mycobacteria.
- Nodules on the neck (side or back) may indicate the presence of a source of infection in the immediate vicinity (inflammation of the respiratory tract, larynx, skin infections).
Increased occipital nodes Komarovsky considers a sign of successful work of the immune system in the process of the body’s fight against various viral pathogens. If a child has experienced ARVI, flu, adenovirus, then such an increase cannot be considered an independent ailment. In the treatment of such an increase does not need and usually passes independently, in 2-3 weeks.
Bilateral inflammation is an alarming symptom that can accompany infectious mononucleosis, toxoplasmosis, secondary syphilis and other serious diseases. If the nodule is inflamed on the one hand, you should not worry. According to Komarovsky, this may indicate that it is this node that works as part of the immune system a little more actively than its other counterparts, takes on an additional “burden”. Its increase can not be considered a sign of the disease.
The most frequent causes of cervical lymphadenitis, according to Yevgeny Komarovsky, are rooted in numerous lymphotropic viral infections, which even herpes, adenovirus infection and others are familiar to many.
In any case, the doctor says, parents should not panic and immediately drag the poor child to a variety of medical professionals. Urgent and emergency treatment in most cases is not required, and often the inflamed lymph node bounces back on its own, without any effort from doctors, mom, dad and grandmothers. Do not immediately go to the pharmacy for antibiotics. But to visit a pediatrician and get a referral for tests is necessary without fail.
Treatment according to Komarovsky
Before prescribing treatment, Evgeny Olegovich recommends that parents find an opportunity to do an examination in a good virological laboratory. It is her specialists and modern high-precision laboratory equipment that will help to determine most precisely what kind of virus caused an increase in lymph nodes.
In most cases, it turns out to be a fairly common clinical blood test, in which the leukocyte formula is determined.
If lymphadenitis is recurrent and returns again and again, Komarovsky finds it sufficient to do such a blood test 2-3 times a year. This, he said, would be enough to control the situation.
If the viral etiology of cervical lymphadenitis is confirmed, treatment does not make sense at all, emphasizes Yevgeny Komarovsky. The ailment will pass on its own – as the immunity completely copes with the foreign agent. If bakposev gives a positive result for staphylococcus or streptococcus, the doctor must prescribe antibiotic therapy.
In 90% of cases, enlarged cervical lymph nodes bother not the child himself, but his overly caring and worried parents. In most cases, says Yevgeny Komarovsky, it is better to leave the child alone (especially if the pediatricians are not alarmed, and the blood of the child is within the normal range).
If the swollen lymph node is reddened, it may indicate suppuration. In this case, the temperature rises, the condition of the baby deteriorates significantly. Such an illness is fraught with a breakthrough of purulent contents in the internal tissues. Komarovsky at the first signs of redness advises to immediately contact a pediatric surgeon, because it is often necessary to treat suppurative lymphadenitis in a surgical way.
Why lymph nodes are enlarged, what are inflamed lymph nodes, is it serious and what to do with it, Dr. Komarovsky will tell in the video below.