Lymph nodes are oval or kidney-shaped glands in the body that are a part of the immune system that filter lymph (fluid containing WBCs, lymphocytes, etc). These nodes act as the first line of defense to protect us from infection-causing agents. White blood cells (WBCs) present in the lymph nodes fight the invading organisms like bacteria and viruses. Lymph nodes filter and trap them before they can enter other body parts and cause an infection. There are around 450 lymph nodes in adults and are spread throughout the body. They are present in groups in some major parts of the body including neck (cervical lymph nodes), armpit (axillary lymph nodes), groin (inguinal lymph nodes), belly and chest. Some lymph nodes can be felt with the hands when they get enlarged or swollen. Generally, lymph nodes swell in case of an illness or infection. In rare cases, the lymph nodes tend to swell from cancer.
Homeopathy can be very beneficial in managing cases of swollen lymph nodes. Homeopathic medicines help in reducing swelling and also managing attending pain in the lymph glands. These medicines work by treating the root cause behind it. Homeopathic medicines are selected differently in every individual case after a detailed case study. Use of homeopathic medicines is recommended only when the cause is benign (non-cancerous) and no serious cause or symptoms are present. It is advised to consult a homeopathic physician and avoid self-medication. It is to be noted that swollen lymph nodes due to a serious cause like tuberculosis, cellulitis, cancer, etc need conventional mode of treatment, as homeopathy has its own limitations.
Homeopathic Medicines For Swollen Lymph Nodes
It is a leading medicine in homeopathy for managing cases having swollen lymph nodes that are painful. In most cases needing it, the pain is tingling and shooting in nature.
2. Baryta Carb
Baryta Carb is yet another homeopathic medicine for cases of swollen lymph nodes. This medicine is indicated for swollen nodes in neck and axilla (armpit). Persons needing it may have tendency to catch cold easily and have sore throat. Tonsils may be enlarged.
3. Calcarea Carb
It is the next well-indicated medicine for managing swelling and pain in the lymph nodes of the neck. There is aching in these nodes with stitching pain while chewing. Secondly, it is indicated for cases of swollen mesenteric lymph nodes in abdomen.
It is a natural medicine prepared from plant Phytolacca Decandra, commonly known as ‘poke root’ and ‘red ink plant’. It belongs to family Phytolaccaceae. It is beneficial in treating swollen tender nodes in neck with pain in the throat along with other symptoms. The throat is dry, rough and there is sensation of a lump in the throat. There is a marked burning sensation in the throat with pain while swallowing. The tonsils are dark red, enlarged and swollen.
5. Merc Sol
This medicine is mainly helpful for cases having swelling of inguinal lymph nodes (in the groin). It is attended with redness, pain and sensitivity. The pain gets worse while walking and standing. It is also useful for cases of swelling of nodes in the neck. It can be accompanied with shooting and pressive pain.
It is prepared from the plant ‘deadly nightshade’. It belongs to family Solanaceae. It is well indicated for swollen nodes in the neck along with pain and heat. It may be attended with prickling or stinging type of pain. Tonsils may be red and enlarged in cases that require it. There is difficulty in swallowing followed by pain. Fever may also be there.
What Are The Causes Behind It?
It may arise from various causes.
The first reason for swollen lymph nodes is infection mainly viral, like common cold. It may also happen in case of sinus infection/sinusitis, an inflammation of lining of the paranasal sinus which in a healthy condition is filled with air. In case the paranasal spaces get blocked and filled with fluid germs, it results in an infection.
Next reason is tonsillitis and strep throat. Tonsillitis means inflammation of tonsils that are two oval-shaped lymphatic tissue masses which lie at the back of the throat one on either side. Strep throat refers to a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation and pain in the throat, and tonsils. It is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria.
Another cause is ear infection.
Swelling of lymph nodes can also occur in cases of measles, a viral infection caused by measles virus. It is a highly contagious infection that begins with symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, inflamed eyes and fever. This is followed by a skin rash approximately around after 14 days of virus exposure.
Mononucleosis (an infectious disease which in most cases is caused by the Epstein – Barr virus but can be caused by other viruses too) is also among one of its causes.
It may also happen in case of tooth abscess (a pocket of pus which may appear in different parts of a tooth and results from a bacterial infection).
Next cause is cellulitis (a serious bacterial infection involving the inner layers of the skin).
HIV/AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is yet another cause.
Swollen lymph nodes may also occur in infections, like TB (tuberculosis), toxoplasmosis, rubella, Lyme disease. Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease affecting lungs caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Mostly it affects lungs but may also affect other body parts too. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite named Toxoplasma gondii. Rubella is a contagious viral infection caused by rubella virus. It is also known as German measles. Lyme disease refers to a tick-borne disease caused by a bacteria of the type borrelia, known as Borrelia burgdoferi.
Another infection that can lead to it is cat scratch fever (It is a bacterial infection that a person can contract from cats infected with bacteria Bartonella henselae).
Some of the STIs (sexually transmitted infections) like syphilis and gonorrhea can also cause it. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacterium Treponema pallidum. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
In some cases, certain medicines (like some anti-seizure medicines) can lead to it.
Other than these, it may occur in some autoimmune disorders (in such disorders, the immune cells in the body start to damage the body’s healthy tissue out of a misdirected response). Its first example is rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammatory disorder of autoimmune origin in which there is joint inflammation with pain, swelling and stiffness of joints). Second example is SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease in which there is inflammation of the immune system which damages its own tissues that can affect joints, brain, skin, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. Third is Sjogren’s syndrome (An autoimmune disorder having two common symptoms including dry eyes and a dry mouth).
In some cases, these may occur from some types of cancer. These include lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system). It mainly includes Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier called Hodgkin’s disease and Non – Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and leukemia (a blood cancer caused by an increase in the number of WBCs in the body). These may also swell when some other cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
What Are Its Signs And Attending Symptoms?
In case of swollen lymph nodes, firstly there occurs pain and tenderness in the lymph nodes. The pain in lymph nodes may arise from certain movements also. For example, pain in the swollen lymph nodes in neck may be felt on turning head, swollen lymph nodes in the groin may cause pain when walking.
The lymph nodes that have swelling feel like soft and round bumps that may be small like pea size or large up to the size of a cherry.
The swelling in lymph nodes may be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the cause behind it. Some of these includes sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue.
The swelling of lymph nodes may occur in one part of body (localized lymphadenopathy) or lymph nodes may swell throughout the body (generalized lymphadenopathy). In case the swollen lymph node is caused from an infection and not treated in time, then there is chance of formation of an abscess (localised collection of pus).
When lymph nodes are swollen but not tender, they are hard and fixed or grow rapidly, then it can be indicative of serious issues like cancer.
The swollen lymph nodes are commonly more noticeable in neck, in groin, behind ear, under chin, armpits.