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Swollen glands

Swollen glands: Introduction

Swollen glands are a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. Swollen glands are actually swollen lymph nodes and are also known as lymphadenitis, lymphadenopathy, swollen nodes or swollen lymph nodes. Swollen glands is a term that may also be used in conjunction with the infectious disease mumps, which causes swelling of the salivary glands in the neck that produce saliva.

Lymph nodes or glands are an important part of the body's immune system and play a vital role in helping the body to fight off and contain infection and abnormal substances, such as cancer cells. Swollen glands can result from infection, malignancy and autoimmune disorders.

Lymph nodes are located in many parts of the body, such as the groin, armpit, neck, and on the back of the head. Swollen glands can occur in any age group or population, but generally occur most often in children.

Swollen glands can indicate infectious diseases, such as rubella, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, strep throat, influenza, cold, or mononucleosis. Swollen glands can also be a symptom of an infection, such as an infected wound, abscess, gingivitis, cellulitis, or infected insect bite. Swollen glands can also be a symptom of some types of cancer, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease.

Swollen glands often occur in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common coexisting symptoms include fever, flu-like symptoms, bleeding gums, sore throat and fatigue. The underlying disorder, disease or condition can also cause complications. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of swollen glands.

Diagnosing swollen glands and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. A dental exam is necessary for swollen glands that might be caused by dental problems.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease or strep throat. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include blood tests, culture and sensitivity testing, lymph node biopsy, and imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, nuclear scan and MRI.

A diagnosis of a swollen glands and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because swollen glands may be not be painful and might be ignored. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of swollen glands.

Treatment of swollen glands involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing them. Some conditions can be successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of swollen glands. ...more »


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