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The lymphatic system is part of  the immune system and fights infections. It consists of  lymph glands or lymph nodes and lymph ducts through which the lymphatic fluid is transported through the body. The lymph nodes consist of  lymphocyte cells which produce antibodies and macrophages that digest the debris produced while the antibodies fight the foreign particles. The lymphocyte and macrophage cells are enclosed in a capsule to form a lymph node.

Lymph glands are located in clusters in various parts of  the body - the neck, under the jaw and chin, behind the ears, in the armpit and groin area. Normally the size of  the lymph glands is less than 1 cm in diameter in children and about 2 cm in diameter in adults. When the number of  lymphocytes or foreign particle debris in the lymph nodes increases, the lymph glands swell up. Bacterial or viral infections like common cold, a dental problem, a local injury, medication or diseases like cancer can cause swollen lymph glands

 

Normally, the swollen lymph glands will subside to their original size within 2 weeks after the infection causing the swelling is treated. No specific medical treatment may be required, for swollen lymph nodes caused by infection or injury, which are sudden and painful. However, if the swelling is due to cancer or a tumor, the swelling may gradually increase in size and is usually painless.

 

Medical treatment may be required if  the swelling does not subside after 2 weeks and there are other symptoms like fever and weight loss. If  the infection is very severe, the skin surrounding the lymph node may get inflamed and painful and the lymph node may need to be drained.


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