Lymph nodes are found throughout your body. They are an important part of your immune system. Lymph nodes help your body recognize and fight germs, infections, and other foreign substances.
The term "swollen glands" refers to enlargement of one or more lymph nodes.
In a child, a node is considered enlarged if it is more than 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) in diameter.
Swollen glands; Glands - swollen; Lymph nodes - swollen; Lymphadenopathy
Common areas where the lymph nodes can be felt (with the fingers) include:
- Neck (there is a chain of lymph nodes on either side of the front of the neck, both sides of the neck, and down each side of the back of the neck)
- Under the jaw and chin
- Behind the ears
- On the back of the head
Lymph nodes can become swollen from infection, inflammatory conditions, an
When swelling appears suddenly and is painful, it is usually caused by injury or an infection. Enlargement that comes on gradually and painlessly may, in some cases, result from cancer or a
Infections that commonly cause swollen lymph nodes include:
- Abscessed or impacted tooth
Colds, flu, and other infections Gingivitis Mononucleosis Mouth sores
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Tonsillitis Tuberculosis Skin infections
Immune or autoimmune disorders that can cause swollen lymph nodes include rheumatoid arthritis and
Cancers that can often cause swollen lymph nodes include leukemia,
Which lymph nodes are swollen depends on the type of problem and the body parts involved. Identifying the location can help determine the possible cause.
Swollen lymph nodes may also be caused by some medications (such phenytoin for seizures) or certain vaccinations (such as typhoid immunization).
Review Date: 05/13/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.