We have probably experienced feeling a dull, swelling ache protruding at the side of our necks. Along with that, we also feel a slight fever and the case of flu which take us a day’s off from work. We wonder if it’s something minor or worry that it’s something serious like a mumps infection. We get ourselves checked, and it turns out, it is only our lymph nodes that are acting up. Swollen lymph nodes should be nothing to worry about.
So, what are lymph nodes?
Our lymph nodes are the tiny glands in our bodies that filter a kind of clear substance that circulates the lymphatic system called lymph. When bacteria or infection from viruses attacks the body, the lymph nodes would respond by swelling or slightly protruding beneath our skin.
To better understand our lymphatic system, it is the part of our body that functions similarly to our blood vessels. The lymph nodes are the small glands that help store our white blood cells. They play a crucial role in our body when it comes to fighting off infections. The white blood cells that stored in the lymph are usually responsible for killing germs and viruses that invade our body. The lymph nodes are the ones that collect the debris coming from accumulated dead cells, bacteria and certain viruses.
Lymph nodes are generally located all over the body. They are also found in our skin and protrudes when it is trying to fight off bacteria from attacking our body. The common places in our body where the lymph nodes are found are:
– Both sides of our neck
– Under our armpits
– Beneath the jaws
– Above our collarbones
– Both sides of our groin
The lymph nodes will swell depending on which part of our body it is responding to. For instance, when we have problems with our respiratory system like the common cold, the lymph nodes on either side of our neck will then swell up.
What are the causes of our lymph nodes to swell?
As mentioned, our lymph nodes swell because of its response to fighting off bacteria and viruses that are attacking our body. Once it is swollen, it is a clear sign that our lymphatic system is working hard to get rid of the harmful agents entering our body. When lymph nodes around the head and neck swell, this is usually caused by diseases like:
– Infection in the sinuses
– Infection in the ears
– Tooth infection
– Infection on the skin
– Strep throat
In rare cases, serious conditions like cancers do not cause lymph nodes to swell. However, when it does, it would cause the lymph nodes in the entire body to swell. As cancer starts to spread from one lymph node to another, it decreases our chances of survival. A type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes to swell is lymphoma. Other immune-related diseases that would also cause the lymph nodes to swell would include rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Even some sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis would cause the lymph nodes around the groin area to swell. Allergic reactions to certain medications can also cause swelling of the lymph nodes. Other illnesses that would cause our lymph nodes to swell include tonsillitis, measles, leukemia, mouth sores, gingivitis, cat scratch fever, and even tuberculosis.
How to detect swelling of the lymph nodes
When a lymph node starts to swell, its shape would usually be similar to a pea’s size or as big as a grape cherry. It can be painful and sensitive to touch, or even hurts when you move. They can also be tender. When the lymph nodes under your jaw or on one side of your neck swell, it would usually hurt to make sudden movements like turning your head or chewing food. When your groin area gets affected by the swelling lymph nodes, movements like walking, running or even bending would be painful. These are just some of the symptoms you can experience when your lymph nodes swell. Other symptoms would include:
– Extreme fatigue
– Constant coughing
– Feeling feverish
– Cold sweats
– A runny nose and sore throat
If you feel you’re experiencing any one of these symptoms, it is a good idea to have yourself checked with a physician or health specialist. Often, when lymph nodes remain swollen for some time and do not feel tender or painful, it would usually indicate a serious illness like cancer. It is best always to have yourself checked if this happens.
Are there natural methods at home to treat lymph nodes?
While it is a good idea to get a prescription and recommendations from doctors, there are also natural ways to treat swollen lymph nodes. In most cases, swollen lymph nodes would just reduce in a matter of days. Treatments may vary for different cases of swollen lymph nodes. However, here are 5 remedies at home you can do to reduce the swelling faster.
- Gently massaging the affected area
This is a good way to help reduce the swelling of lymph nodes. At the same time, the lymph nodes are stimulated to recover faster and function normally. It would also decrease buildup of bacteria in the lymph nodes. You can administer the massage yourself or ask a professional therapist.
- Using warm compress
Warm compress is said to be one of the most effective home treatment for lymph nodes. This is because it helps in proper circulation of the blood and in the process reduce the swelling.
- Gargling with salt water
This method can also help reduce the swelling of lymph nodes. This is because salt helps decrease inflammation especially around the neck area. Just mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and do this daily for at least a week.
- Using Apple Cider Vinegar Solution
Drinking Apple Cider vinegar comes with plenty of benefits. One of them is reducing the swelling of the lymph nodes. This is because the vinegar helps create a healthy alkaline environment and pH level in your body. You can soak the solution on a washcloth and apply to the affected area or mix in a glass of water.
Turmeric is known for its antioxidant and inflammatory properties. It can also help fight infections and make the healing process go faster. You can do this by mixing a tablespoon of turmeric powder with honey which would make a paste and apply to affected area. Similarly, you can also drink it or take it as a supplement.
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