Swollen Lymph Nodes (Swollen Glands)

Swollen glands (lymph nodes) and normal lymph node

Illustration copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures in the body that are sometimes incorrectly called "glands." They are part of the lymphatic system, which carries lymph fluid, nutrients, and waste material between the body tissues and the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which is the body's defence system against disease.

Lymph nodes are found singly or in groups. They may be as small as the head of a pin or as large as an olive. Groups of lymph nodes can be felt in the neck, groin, and underarms. Many lymph nodes in the body cannot be felt.

When a part of the body is infected, the nearby lymph nodes can become swollen. For example, if a person has a throat infection, the lymph nodes in the neck may swell and become tender.

Current as ofJuly 30, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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