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Young woman feeling unwell, touching her neck, and feeling swollen lymph nodes

An essential component of your body’s lymphatic system, lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped vessels that contain infection-fighting white blood cells. Your lymphatic system collects excess fluid (lymph) from blood vessels throughout your body. As the lymph circulates, your lymph nodes target, attack, and filter out foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, then eliminate those harmful substances in the form of waste. Usually, swelling indicates that lymph nodes are doing their job—working hard to fight off infection.

Lymph nodes are grouped in clusters, and each cluster drains a specific area of your body. You may feel swollen lymph nodes in your neck, under your chin, in your armpits, and in your groin. Usually, swollen lymph nodes feel like tender, painful lumps, each the size of a pea or kidney bean. You may also have a runny nose, fever, night sweats, and a sore throat.

What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?

The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is a viral infection, such as the common cold. Other infections that can cause lymph node swelling include:

  • Strep throat
  • Mononucleosis
  • An ear infection
  • An abscessed tooth
  • A skin or wound infection, such as cellulitis
  • Measles
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Usually, lymph node swelling resolves when the underlying infection improves or goes away. It is important to seek medical attention for an infection, which may require antibiotic treatment. Additionally, an abscess may need to be professionally drained. If left untreated, an infection can spread and lead to life-threatening complications, such as sepsis.

We Can Help

Saddleback Family & Urgent Care offers comprehensive healthcare services at our location in Mission Viejo, California. If you are concerned about swollen lymph nodes or another non-emergency medical issue, schedule a same-day reservation with an experienced provider today.