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Address: 27 Welbeck Street, London, W1G 8EN
Tel: 020 7101 3377

Lymphadenopathy and enlarged lymph node

Lymphadenopathy refers to the condition where lymph nodes become enlarged due to infection, inflammation, or malignancy. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are part of the lymphatic system, which plays a crucial role in the body’s immune defense. They filter lymph, a fluid containing white blood cells that help fight infection. Enlarged lymph nodes can occur in just one area of the body (localized lymphadenopathy) or in multiple areas (generalized lymphadenopathy).

Causes of Lymphadenopathy

Lymphadenopathy can result from a wide variety of factors, including:

  • Infections: Both viral (e.g., HIV, Epstein-Barr virus) and bacterial (e.g., streptococcus, tuberculosis) infections are common causes.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can cause lymph node enlargement.
  • Cancers: Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system), leukemia (cancer of the blood and bone marrow), and metastasis from other cancers can lead to lymphadenopathy.
  • Other causes: Medications, allergic reactions, and rare diseases can also cause lymph nodes to enlarge.

Symptoms

The main symptom of lymphadenopathy is the enlargement of one or more lymph nodes. Other symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause and can include:

  • Tenderness or pain in the enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Symptoms related to the underlying infection or disease

Diagnosis

To diagnose the cause of lymphadenopathy, healthcare providers may use:

  • Medical history and physical examination: To check the size, location, and characteristics of the enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Blood tests: To look for infections, inflammation, or signs of cancer.
  • Imaging tests: Such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI, to assess the lymph nodes and surrounding structures.
  • Biopsy: Removing a sample of lymph node tissue for laboratory analysis is often necessary to confirm a diagnosis, especially if cancer is suspected.

Treatment

Treatment for lymphadenopathy depends on the underlying cause:

  • Infections: Antibiotics or antiviral medications may be prescribed to treat the infection causing the lymph node enlargement.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Anti-inflammatory medications or immunosuppressive drugs can help manage conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cancers: Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery, depending on the type and stage of cancer.
  • Supportive care: For lymphadenopathy caused by benign conditions, treatment may not be necessary other than managing symptoms and monitoring.

When to Seek Medical Attention

It’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you notice:

  • Lymph nodes that are larger than 1 centimeter (about 0.5 inch) in diameter
  • Enlargement that persists for more than a few weeks
  • Nodes that feel hard or fixed in place
  • Accompanying symptoms like fever, night sweats, or unexplained weight loss

Lymphadenopathy can be a sign of various conditions, from minor infections to serious diseases. Timely medical evaluation is essential to determine the cause and initiate appropriate treatment, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

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Address: 27 Welbeck Street, London, W1G 8EN

Telephone020 7101 3377