Enlarged Lymph Glands in Children

Lymph glands are the bean-shaped glands in the neck, armpits, groin, chest, and abdomen. These glands act as lymphatic fluid filters in the body and help fight infections. However, sometimes these lymph glands swell up beyond their normal size and the child has whats called lymphadenopathy. Lymphadenopathy can occur in just one area of the body, such as the neck, or it may affect lymph nodes throughout the body.

Nearly all children will get lymphadenopathy at some point in their life. Most of them will be due to infections from viruses, and/or bacteria. However, there is lymphadenopathy that may be a sign of more serious causes like blood diseases or cancers.

Besides enlargement, there are some symptoms that you may observe in your child, the most common being:

  • Lumps under the jaw, down the sides or back of the neck, or in the armpits, groin, chest, or belly

  • Pain/tenderness in the area

  • Redness or warmth in the area

Some concerning symptoms to worry about include:

  • fever

  • breathing problems

  • poor appetite

  • body aches

  • tiredness

  • weight loss

Make sure your child sees his/her healthcare provider for an appropriate diagnosis. The doctor may request some tests for diagnosis such as:

  • Lab tests

  • X-rays, including x-rays of the chest

  • Lymph node biopsy – a sample of the lymph node tissue is taken and looked at under a microscope.

Your child may need to see a paediatric surgeon for biopsy or he/she may be referred to specialists in blood disorders and cancer.

Treatment is usually based on the cause of lymph gland enlargement.

Ignoring lymphadenopathy may delay treatment of a serious infection or other disease.

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