Lymph nodes are small body filters. A protein-rich fluid passes through them, lymph, into which blood is sifted out by microorganisms and toxins dangerous for the body, as well as altered cells. Being located one after another, they check the lymph so that until the immunity collects its strength, the pathological process does not go beyond the limits of this area.
The lymph nodes are the organs that, when confronted with something potentially dangerous, are the first to signal the protection. Immediately, without waiting for the response of their central organs, they “preserve” the dangerous agent inside and begin to attack it on their own, while sending lymphocytes to the source of the problem. Such an assault and causes an increase in lymph nodes.
That is, lymphadenitis – that is the name for their size when they are visualized or can be probed – almost always means that there is a problem in the place from which the lymph is collected. The name of this disease can be both acute respiratory viral infections, and inflammation in the area of the dental-maxillary system, and even cancer, only the doctor can determine the cause.
Therefore, having noticed one or some number of inflamed cervical lymph nodes, the reasons for this should be sought not independently, but in close cooperation with medical workers.
Lymph nodes in the neck hurt – probable causes
Cervical lymphadenitis in adults is an organismic response to an infectious agent caught in it: a virus, a fungus or a bacterium. In this case, the latter may be:
- non-specific: staphylococcus, proteus, clostridia, pyocyanic stick, staphylococcus;
- specific: mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of syphilis, gonococcus, brucella, actinomycete fungus, the bacterium that causes tularemia.
In children of 1-3 years old, lymphadenitis often accompanies such pathologies as SARS, rubella, scarlet fever, and infectious mononucleosis. It can occur when “getting acquainted” with the tubercle bacillus, not necessarily with the disease, but with BCG vaccination. In the early school years, the lymph nodes are inflamed in lacunar angina, when abscesses are found on the tonsils.
An increase in a large number of lymph nodes may be accompanied by such rare diseases as histioplasmosis or coccidioidomycosis.
Up to three years, and then in 6 – 10 years, an increase in a large number of lymph nodes in the absence of symptoms of the disease may be a symptom of a physiological phenomenon called lymphatism, if:
- there is a rapid growth of the child,
- if in its food animal squirrels prevail.
It is not necessary to treat this type of cervical lymphadenitis, but observation by a pediatrician is mandatory here: it is not necessarily lymphaticism, but a manifestation of hypersensitivity. If, in addition to lymphadenopathy, the thymus gland is greatly enlarged (this is the same organ of the immune system as the lymph nodes), this is a dangerous signal.
In people of any age lymphadenitis is divided into:
- Acute, caused by highly contagious flora, or appeared when the lymph node was injured.
- Chronic, which develops when a weakly virulent microflora penetrates the node, and the acute process is not fully treated. Chronic current immediately acquire specific processes: tuberculosis, brucellosis, syphilitic.
By the nature of the process occurring inside the lymph node, lymphadenitis is:
- Catarrhal This stage is characteristic of the beginning infectious disease. Here is marked soaking of the lymph node with blood plasma.
- Hyperplastic, occurring in the late stage of the process. The lymph node grows due to the abundant reproduction of immune cells in it.
- Purulent. It develops only during the bacterial process, when the lymph node is filled with a large number of pyogenic microflora, or the lymph node has been injured with infected material. When filling with a large amount of pus, the latter can also infiltrate the tissue surrounding the node. And if the body does not decide to cover it with a capsule, then the pus can “spread out” all over the neck (cellulitis), if the pus focus is surrounded by a capsule, then an abscess may develop.
Signs of cervical lymphadenopathy
The fact that there was inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck, say these symptoms:
- In a place where the neck hurts, you can feel the “pea” of soft elastic properties, moving relative to the overlying skin and the adjacent muscles. In case of severe inflammation, it is no longer “pea” that is defined, but a formation with a diameter of up to 5 cm (more rarely, a larger one), which is already visible with the naked eye. This is inflammation in the neck of the lymph nodes, and his treatment is anti-inflammatory. If such a structure is dense, its outlines are fuzzy, uneven, you cannot move it aside, it may be a lymph node, but containing abnormal cells. This is called lymphadenopathy.
- Structure is painful
- It becomes painful when passing food in the place of an enlarged lymph node.
- Above the painful ball may be redness of the skin.
- Symptoms from the whole organism also develop: weakness, low-grade fever 37.2 – 37.6 ° C, fatigue, mild headache.
Often these symptoms are preceded by signs of an infectious process that has served as a triggering factor for cervical lymphadenitis. This is a sore throat with ARD, rashes in case of measles and rubella, high temperature in scarlet fever or lacunar quinsy, intense jaw pain with a change in the general condition – in case of her soft tissue phlegmon or osteomyelitis, and so on.
Signs of lymphadenopathy in children
About inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck of a child. If such a condition is caused by sluggish inflammation of the head and neck area, or the immune system is not strong enough to quickly overcome the infection, a neck lymphadenitis of a chronic nature occurs. It is manifested only by randomly detected enlarged lymph nodes, which feel almost no pain. At the same time, the baby feels good, the temperature is not elevated.
If lymphadenitis develops as a result of an acute – bacterial or viral – process localized in the oral cavity, soft tissues of the head or neck, the following symptoms are found:
- a sharp rise in temperature to high numbers;
- neck swelling;
- refusal to eat Older children say, pointing to the neck area that it has become difficult to even drink;
- sleep disturbance;
- nausea, lethargy, weakness in babies may develop.
Algorithm of action when detecting one / several enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
If you feel (or a child complains to you) local pain in the neck or under the jaw:
- View this area. There you can find a soft tissue injury or an abscess.
- Carefully, with two fingers, feel and “roll” the tissue in the painful area: with lymphadenitis, you will feel the “ball”. If it is myositis, no local education will be palpable.
- If you feel a “ball”, note for yourself the following facts: soreness when pressed, dislocation of this formation relative to the skin on the top and muscles on the sides, skin temperature above it.
- If the lymph nodes are small, painless, “roll” with your fingers, there are a lot of them at once, this indicates immunity pathologies. A consultant who can help you understand the pathology is an infectious disease disease.
- The uneven contour, palpable bumps, poor mobility of education and its painlessness are serious signs. You need to visit an oncologist, who will appoint the necessary examinations.
- If we are talking about the purulent process of the lymph node itself, it can become very painful and hot. Your specialist is a surgeon.
- For inflammatory pathologies of the throat, mouth and neck will be characterized by increased pain during palpation, easy rolls under the fingers. Here you need to visit an ENT doctor, a therapist (for children – a pediatrician), and sometimes a dentist.
Lymph nodes are clearly divided into groups is not easy: everyone collects lymph from the established area of the head and neck, so you can find the source of infection or atypical cells. But there is a “but”: in case of a pronounced inflammatory process, as well as systemic (they affect many organs at the same time) diseases or lesions of the immune system, several groups are affected at once, which makes diagnosis much more difficult.
Determine the localization of the disease by the enlarged node
- soft tissue of the head or neck;
- suppurative subperiosteal hematoma (if there was a head injury);
- bones of the skull (for example, osteomyelitis of the jaw);
- salivary glands,
- pneumatic sinuses of the skull;
- suppuration of cysts of the roots of teeth;
- thyroid gland;
- as well as lymphogranulomatosis, but it is characterized by recurrence of lymphadenitis.
An enlarged lymph node after convalescence of an acute respiratory disease or a treated purulent disease of the oral cavity does not require panic, but observation, as it is usually a sign of the body’s fight against infection, and should disappear within a week. If this does not happen, contact the doctor who treated you. He will tell you how to treat cervical lymadenitis.
This cannot be said about the treated tumor. Here, even if many years have passed since the operation, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, an oncologist should be urgently visited.
Diagnosis and treatment
As mentioned above, lymphadenopathy is not an independent disease, but an organism response to some kind of infectious process. Therefore, in order to prescribe the correct treatment, it is necessary to establish the reason why the lymph nodes in the neck hurt. To do this, it is necessary for a person to be examined by a therapist (if the child has a disease, then a pediatrician), who will refer to an otolaryngologist, a dentist, a dermatologist, an oncologist, an infectious diseases specialist or a hematologist. These narrow specialists will prescribe tests to help clarify the diagnosis. It may be:
- general blood analysis;
- Ultrasound of the lymph node;
- PCR examination of blood for the genome of various viruses and bacteria;
- lymph node biopsy;
- sternal puncture.
Treatment of lymphadenitis depends on what pathology was caused:
- Fungal diseases of the skin and scalp are treated with local, less commonly with systemic anti-fungal drugs. So, apply the cream ketoconazole or clotrimazole.
- Antifungal antibiotics also treat lymphadenitis caused by oral thrush, only in this case, Diflucan, Clotrimazole or Voriconazole are taken in the form of tablets or injections.
- If lymphadenitis is caused by dental diseases, treatment by a dentist is necessary, which will reorganize the pathological foci. You can supplement therapy with the help of physiotherapeutic methods: UHF, galvanization, laser therapy.
- If lymphadenitis was caused by a bacterial flora, including a specific one, inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck will be treated with antibiotics (only a doctor can select the correct drugs). This is how lymphadenitis is treated in case of sore throat, osteomyelitis, carbuncle, suppuration of cysts of the roots of teeth, erysipelas, endophthalmitis, furunculosis, purulent otitis, and other bacterial pathologies. It is shown and if there is suppuration of the lymph node. With the development of complications such as abscess or adeno-phlegmon, in addition to antibacterial, surgical treatment is required.
- Infectious viral diseases (scarlet fever, measles, rubella) that caused cervical lymphadenitis do not undergo specific therapy.
- When lymphadenopathy was caused by infectious mononucleosis, interferon drugs are prescribed: Viferon, Cycloferon, and the course administration of specific immunoglobulins in the age dose is carried out.
- In case of herpes infection, which caused the inflammation of the lymph nodes, a tablet preparation “Acyclovir” is prescribed.
- If an oncological disease has become the etiological factor of an increase in the lymph nodes, only an oncologist will be able to choose the appropriate tactics for his treatment: whether it will be only the removal of the focus of atypia, or whether radiation or chemotherapy is necessary.
- Systemic diseases are treated by a rheumatologist. He will select a combination of drugs that will suppress the abnormal activity of the immune system.
It is forbidden to warm enlarged lymph nodes, draw iodine “mesh” on them, to massage them: the body specifically “canned” dangerous agents inside of itself, and you can spread them all over the body. Together with your doctor, determine the cause of the pathology, eliminate it and recover!