Chronic lymphadenitis is the inflammation of a lymph node. The inflammation can last for a prolonged period of time. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system. This system fights and prevents infections. The lymph node’s job is to filter out unwanted substances, such as bacteria and viruses, and help eliminate them from the body.
Lymph nodes normally swell when fighting off an infection. In cases of more serious infection, the swelling may be prolonged. Lymphadenitis is usually caused by an infection that has spread to the lymph nodes from a skin, ear, nose, or eye infection. Other causes of lymphadenitis include the following:
Infection with streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria
Lymph node inflammation may also be caused by circulating cancer cells.
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chances of developing chronic lymphadenitis. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
The conditions listed under “Causes”
Close contact with someone who has one of the conditions listed above
Age: 12 or younger; chronic lymphadenitis commonly occurs in children.
Contact with animals, specifically cats, rats, or cows
If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to chronic lymphadenitis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Swollen, painful, tender, or hard lymph nodes
The skin over a node is red and warm to the touch
Fever with the following symptoms:
Loss of appetite
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
White blood cell (WBC) count—WBCs help fight infection, so levels will be high if you have an infection.
Blood culture—testing of a sample of blood to look for bacteria or fungus
Biopsy of the lymph node—removal of a sample of lymph node tissue for testing
Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine your lymph nodes
Treatment of chronic lymphadenitis depends on the cause. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Antibiotics to control an infection
Anti-inflammatory medications—to help reduce inflammation and swelling; aspirin may be recommended for adults.
: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or
recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of
. Ask your doctor which other medicines are safe for your child.
Hot, moist compresses on the lymph nodes can help relieve pain.
Surgery may be necessary to drain abscesses (pockets of pus), if they occur.
To help reduce your chances of getting chronic lymphadenitis, take the following steps:
Seek prompt treatment of bacterial and viral infections. Contact your doctor at the first signs of infection (fever, chills, redness).
Take steps to prevent getting an infection:
Practice good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands regularly.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Eat a healthful diet, one that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a