What is Lymphadenopathy?
What is Lymphadenopathy? Lymphadenopathy in general is an enlargement that occurs in more than two groups of adjacent lymph nodes. Lymph nodes contain white blood cells and have an important role in the body’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria and other disease causes.
The size of the lymph nodes generally depends on the person’s age, location, and immune activity. This gland does have the capacity to enlarge its size.
Lymphadenopathy can usually be felt under the chin, in the neck, in the armpits, or in the groin. This condition is usually not classified as a serious medical problem. However, lymphadenopathy may be an early sign of a serious illness.
Symptoms of lymphadenopathy
Symptoms are something that is felt and told by the patient. The main symptom of lymphadenopathy is the enlarged size of the lymph nodes causing pain and lumps.
Lymphadenopathy can also cause different symptoms, depending on the cause of gland enlargement. Some of these other symptoms are:
- Slimy nose, fever, sore throat, and other symptoms that indicate the occurrence of upper respiratory tract infections.
- Whole swelling of lymph nodes throughout the body, which may indicate an infection or impaired immune system.
- Swollen limbs.
- The growth of the gland is fast, can not shift, and hard. This may indicate a tumor.
- Sweating at night.
What causes lymphadenopathy?
Lymphadenopathy can be caused by various conditions. However, the majority of cases of lymphadenopathy are caused by viral infections as in the case of common cold (rhinofaryngitis or cold). Here are some things or conditions that cause lymphadenopathy:
- Protozoa. Toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, sleeping sickness.
- Virus. Upper respiratory infection, infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, rubella, varicella, measles, HIV, hepatitis A and B, infant Roseola, dengue, adenovirus.
- Mushrooms. For example coccidioidomycosis
- Bacteria. Septicemia, typhoid fever, TB, syphilis, plague, lyme disease, tularemia, brucellosis.
- Immune system disorders and hypersensitivity. For example systemic lupus erythematosus and drug reaction.
- Neoplastic disorders and proliferation. Acute leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, histiocytosis.
- Metabolic disorders. For example Gaucher’s disease and Niemann-Pick’s disease.
Diagnosis of lymphadenopathy
Diagnosis is a doctor’s step to identify a disease or condition based on symptoms, clinical signs experienced by the patient as well as other investigations. Before taking any specific diagnostic action, the doctor will study the patient’s medical records first.
Some of the actions doctors usually make to diagnose lymphadenopathy are:
- Physical examination. In the lymph nodes close to the skin surface, the doctor will check the size, texture, whether it feels warm and painful to the touch.
- Blood test. This action will advise the doctor to evaluate the patient’s general health condition, as well as to detect any blood disorders and infections.
- Imaging test. An X-ray or CT scan of the affected part of the lymphadenopathy is performed to locate the source of the infection or to find a tumor.
- Lymph node biopsy. The doctor will take a sample of lymph node tissue or even all of it for examination in the laboratory.
Treatment and Complications of Lymphadenopathy
The goal of treatment is usually to deal with a disease or medical condition that causes the appearance of lymphadenopathy. Here are some treatments to address the causes of lymphadenopathy:
- Antiviral drugs. Lymphadenopathy usually returns to normal after viral infection is resolved with antiviral drugs.
- Immune system immune therapy therapy.
- Antimicrobial therapy, will be given doctors to treat bacterial infections that cause lymphadenopathy.
- Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, these three actions are usually done to treat cancer that can lead to lymphadenopathy.
If the cause of lymphadenopathy is not treated promptly, there are several complications of lymphadenopathy that can be suffered by the patient:
- Blood flow infections (bacteremia).
- Blockage of large venous blood vessels.
- Abscess or appearance of pus.