What are Your Lymph Nodes?
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Lymph nodes are your immune system’s first line of defense, protecting you from things like bacteria or viruses that could make you sick.
You have hundreds of small, round, or bean-shaped glands all over your body. Most are spread out, but some are found in groups in a few major places, like your neck, under your arm, and in your chest, belly, and groin. You might be able to feel some of the clusters in those areas as little bumps.
Your lymph nodes are part of your lymphatic system. Along with your spleen, tonsils, and adenoids, they help you fight off illness and infections.
Before learning natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes, you should know what lymph nodes are. In fact, swollen lymph nodes occur due to exposure to viruses or bacteria. When this condition is caused by an infection, it is called lymphadenitis. Swollen lymph nodes are rarely caused due to cancer. Your lymph nodes, called lymph glands, play a crucial role in the ability of the body to fight off any infection. They function as filters, which trap bacteria, viruses, and other reasons for illnesses before they may infect other body parts. Common areas where swollen lymph nodes occur include your neck, in your armpits & groin, and under your chin.
Types of Lymph Nodes
In fact, there are 2 types of swollen lymph nodes, including generalized lymphadenitis and localized lymphadenitis, the most common type. Generalized lymphadenitis is known as a lymph node infection occurring in 2 lymph node groups or more. An infection that generally spreads through an illness (affecting the entire body) or the bloodstream commonly causes lymphadenitisLocalized lymphadenitis often involves just 1 or a few lymph nodes that are close to the infected area; for instance, if your tonsils are infected, the near lymph nodes will be swollen noticeably. In 75 % of all cases, swollen lymph glands are localized, with over 50 % located in the neck and head area
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It also maintains fluid balance and plays a role in absorbing fats and fat-soluble nutrients. The lymphatic or lymph system involves an extensive network of vessels that passes through almost all our tissues to allow for the movement of a fluid called lymph.
How Your Lymph Nodes Work
Your lymph nodes are connected to one another by lymph vessels (tubes that run through your body like veins). They carry lymph fluid — a clear, watery liquid that passes through the nodes. As the fluid flows through, cells called lymphocytes help protect you from harmful germs. There are two kinds of lymphocytes — B-lymphocytes (or B-cells) and T-lymphocytes (or T-cells). B-cells make antibodies that attach to germs and let your immune system know they need to be killed off. T-cells have a couple of jobs. Some destroy germs, while others keep track of immune cells.
They let your body know when to make more of certain kinds and less of others. Lymph fluid also carries protein, waste, cellular debris (what’s left after a cell dies), bacteria, viruses, and excess fat that are filtered by the lymphatic system before it’s dumped back into the bloodstream.
Swollen Lymph NodesWhen there’s a problem in your body, like an illness or an infection, your lymph nodes can swell. (This usually happens only in one area at a time.) It’s a sign that more lymphocytes are in action than usual, trying to kill off germs. You may notice this most often in the glands in your neck.
That’s why your doctor feels the area under your jawbone. He’s checking to see if those glands are bigger than usual or tender. Many things can make your lymph nodes swell. It might be something like a cold or the flu, an ear infection, or an abscessed tooth. Much less often, it can be a sign of something more serious, like tuberculosis or cancer. Sometimes medicines like phenytoin (taken for seizures), or drugs that prevent malaria can cause swollen lymph nodes, too.
Problems that occur with Lymph Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes usually occur as a result of infection from bacteria or viruses. Rarely, swollen lymph nodes are caused by cancer. Your lymph nodes, also called lymph glands, play a vital role in your body’s ability to fight off infections. They function as filters, trapping viruses, bacteria, and other causes of illnesses before they can infect other parts of your body.
Common areas where you might notice swollen lymph nodes include your neck, under your chin, in your armpits, and in your groin. In some cases, the passage of time and warm compresses may be all you need to treat swollen lymph nodes. If an infection causes swollen lymph nodes, treatment depends on the cause.
Symptoms of Bad Lymph Nodes
Your lymphatic system is a network of organs, vessels, and lymph nodes situated throughout your body. Many lymph nodes are located in your head and neck region. Lymph nodes that frequently swell are in this area, as well as in your armpits and groin area.
Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that something is wrong somewhere in your body. When your lymph nodes first swell, you might notice:
- Tenderness and pain in the lymph nodes
- Swelling that may be the size of a pea or kidney bean, or even larger in the lymph nodes
Depending on the cause of your swollen lymph nodes, other signs and symptoms you might have included:
- Runny nose, sore throat, fever, and other indications of an upper respiratory infection
- General swelling of lymph nodes throughout your body. When this occurs, it may indicate an infection, such as HIV or mononucleosis, or an immune system disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Hard, fixed, rapidly growing nodes, indicating possible cancer or lymphoma
- Night sweats
Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are small, round, or bean-shaped clusters of cells. Inside lymph nodes are a combination of different types of immune system cells. These specialized cells filter your lymphatic fluid as it travels through your body and protect you by destroying invaders.
Lymph nodes are located in groups, and each group drains a specific area of your body. You may be more likely to notice swelling in certain areas, such as in the lymph nodes in your neck, under your chin, in your armpits, and in your groin. The site of the swollen lymph nodes may help identify the underlying cause.
The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is an infection, particularly a viral infection, such as the common cold. Other possible causes of swollen lymph nodes include:
- Strep throat
- Ear infections
- Infected (abscessed) tooth
- Skin or wound infections, such as cellulitis
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) — the virus that causes AIDS
- Certain sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis
- Toxoplasmosis — a parasitic infection resulting from contact with the feces of an infected cat or eating undercooked meat
- Cat scratch fever — a bacterial infection from a cat scratch or bite
Immune system disorders
- Lupus — a chronic inflammatory disease that targets your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs
- Rheumatoid arthritis — a chronic inflammatory disease targeting the tissue that lines your joints (synovium)
- Lymphoma — cancer that originates in your lymphatic system
- Leukemia — cancer of your body’s blood-forming tissue, including your bone marrow and lymphatic system
- Other cancers that have spread (metastasized) to lymph nodes
Other possible but rare causes include certain medications, such as the anti-seizure medication phenytoin (Dilantin) and preventive medications for malaria.
If an infection is the cause of your swollen lymph nodes and isn’t treated, an abscess may form. Abscesses are localized collections of pus caused by infections. Pus contains fluid, white blood cells, dead tissue, bacteria, or other invaders. An abscess may require drainage and antibiotic treatment.
To diagnose what might be causing your swollen lymph nodes, your doctor may need:
- Your medical history. Your doctor will want to know when and how your swollen lymph nodes developed and if you have any other signs or symptoms.
- A physical exam. Your doctor will also want to check lymph nodes near the surface of your skin for size, tenderness, warmth, and texture. The site of your swollen lymph nodes and your other signs and symptoms will offer clues to the underlying cause.
- Blood tests. Certain blood tests may help confirm or exclude any suspected underlying conditions. The specific tests will depend on the suspected cause, but most likely will include a complete blood count (CBC). This test helps evaluate your overall health and detect a range of disorders, including infections and leukemia.
- Imaging studies. A chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan of the affected area may help determine potential sources of infection or find tumors.
- Lymph node biopsy. Your doctor may have you undergo a biopsy to secure the diagnosis. He or she will remove a sample from a lymph node or even an entire lymph node for microscopic examination.
When Should You See a Doctor
Swelling in the lymph node has appeared for no apparent reason
Swelling close to your collarbone or in the lower part of the neck
The overlying skin is red and inflamed and you suspect an infection
The nodes are hard, fixed to the skin, do not move, or are growing rapidly
Swelling of the nodes lasts for more than two weeks or you have symptoms such as weight loss, night sweats, fatigue, or fever
Swollen lymph nodes caused by a virus usually return to normal after the viral infection resolves. Antibiotics are not useful to treat viral infections. Treatment for swollen lymph nodes from other causes depends on the cause:
- Infection. The most common treatment for swollen lymph nodes caused by a bacterial infection is antibiotics. If your swollen lymph nodes are due to an HIV infection, you’ll receive specific treatment for that condition.
- Immune disorder. If your swollen lymph nodes are a result of certain conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, treatment is directed at the underlying condition.
- Cancer. Swollen nodes caused by cancer require treatment for cancer. Depending on the type of cancer, treatment may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Lifestyle and home remedies
If your swollen lymph nodes are tender or painful, you might get some relief by doing the following:
- Apply a warm compress. Apply a warm, wet compress, such as a washcloth dipped in hot water and wrung out, to the affected area.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
- Get adequate rest. You often need rest to aid your recovery from the underlying condition.
Always consult with your doctor before using herbal treatments.
1. Castor Oil
You can use castor oil that contains anti-inflammatory & analgesic effects to reduce your swollen lymph glands. It helps to improve the flow of lymph in the body, which in turn speeds up toxin removal. This also aids in reducing the size of swollen nodes. In addition, it even provides a boost to the immune system.
- Simply, rub castor oil on the affected area directly; use a flannel, a plastic bag, and a heating pad to cover it.
- You also can apply castor oil packs on the stomach area and other regions of the body.
2. Warm Compresses
One of the time-tested home remedies for swollen lymph nodes is warm compresses. This is because the hot temperature aids in increasing blood circulation, which will reduce swelling & pain.
- Firstly, dip a clean washcloth in hot water.
- Then, wring it out to remove the excess water.
- Now, place this washcloth on your swollen lymph nodes for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Follow this method a few times a day until the swelling is improved.
You can also use warm water to wash the swollen area a few times per day.
Many herbalists use Echinacea in order to boost the immune system and purify the blood. The University of Maryland Medical Center reported that this herb had the ability to aid in shortening the duration of a common cold. Herbal practitioners practicing Eastern and Western medicine have also prescribed this herb to relieve swelling of the glands as well as to treat colds and flu.
Echinacea may be taken as a natural treatment in powdered or capsule form or by adding its liquid extract to the juice. The recommended dosage is 300 mg, 3 times a day. The remedy should be taken during the illness and within 7 days afterward. Remember that nursing mothers and people taking immune-suppressing medications avoid using Echinacea. Consult a doctor before using Echinacea.
Echinacea has powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that aid in strengthening the lymph system and fighting infection by purifying lymph nodes.
- You need Echinacea roots, flowers, leaves, or some other parts, 1/2 spearmint leaves, some stevia leaves, & 1/2 lemongrass. Mix these ingredients well; brew it with clean water for a few minutes and then taste it.
- Alternatively, just apply Echinacea ointment or cream topically 2 to 3 times per day to reduce swelling.
- Also, you can drink 1 or 2 cups of the Echinacea tea a day for no more than one
- Or, take Echinacea supplements, twice a day for 1 Consult a doctor prior to taking this supplement.
4. Salt Water
Gargling with salt water can be beneficial for easing the swelling & inflammation in the swollen lymph nodes in your neck caused due to an infection in the throat.
- Firstly, mix 1/2 tsp. Of salt in one cup of warm water.
- Then, mix this solution and gargle with it to get relief
- Do the method a couple of times a day for about 1
One of the other natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes is lemon. It is also available in the market and you totally use lemon to get rid of a sore throat, an infection, and swollen glands. Here is the direction.
- You combine 1 tsp. Of honey, a glass of warm water, lemon juice, and drink it immediately.
- Or, you may mix warm water with lemon juice and then gargle it.
- You can also use lemon, shrink it with pepper & salt over the lemon, and then lick it.
- Try to do these methods several times a day until the issue is reduced.
In the list of the simplest & cheapest home remedies for swollen lymph nodes in the neck, ears, and other body parts is certainly apple cider vinegar which is loaded with antibacterial effects to soothe the problem well. It helps to create a great alkaline environment and keep a healthy pH level within your body.
The method is:
- Mix 1 tsp. Of honey, 1 tsp. Of lemon juice, and 1 tbsp. Of apple cider vinegar with 1 glass of lukewarm water then drink immediately. You can also drink this liquid 2 or 3 times each day to ease inflammation & pain.
- Also, you may combine 1 cup of lukewarm water and 1 tbsp. Of apple cider vinegar, and 1 tsp. Of salt, gargle it several times a day.
7. Mullein Leaves
Although mullein leaves seem to be not as common as the other natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes, they are extremely effective in treating this condition. Mullein leaves contain strong antibacterial & antiviral effects that have been beneficial in treating respiratory illnesses.
- Firstly, chop mullein leaves into pieces.
- Then, add these pieces to boiling water.
- Now, let it steep for about 10 minutes.
- Drink it 2 to 3 times a day.
Spirulina is very high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and some other nutrients that are perfect for health. This ingredient is among the best home remedies for swollen lymph nodes you should take. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of spirulina help to reduce the signs of swollen lymph nodes and improve your overall health. You can also take a spirulina capsule but you should ask your doctor before consuming it.
- Include organic spirulina in your favorite smoothie.
- Have 2 to 3 times per day
Herbalists recommend using cleavers (also called Galium aparine) for the swollen lymph nodes. This therapeutic herb helps to stimulate the function of your lymphatic system in order to reinforce proper functioning. This ingredient helps you to purify & cleanse the blood effectively while it also aids in reducing swelling as well. You can drink cleaver tea daily. The instructions are:
- Add 2 tsp. Of this herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Then, let it steep for about 10 minutes and strain it. Now, drink this tea 2 to 3 times a day until you see an improvement.
- Or, you may also take 20 or 30 drops of the cleaver tincture mixed with a little water a day.
Please consult a doctor before using this herb
Elderberry not only helps to give you relief from the swollen lymph nodes effectively but also treats the infection-causing these glands to swell. Elderberry is packed with strong anti-inflammatory & anti-viral value that is useful for reducing your symptoms.
- Boil 1 tsp. Of elderberry flowers or 1 tbsp. Of crushed berries in 1cup of clean water and then have it as a tea for 2 to 3 times per
- Or, you may also make elderberry syrup and then consume it 2 to 3 times per
This therapeutic herb particularly helps to bring down the swelling of your swollen lymph nodes. It contains anti-inflammatory & analgesic value that can help to reduce swelling & pain well. It can also fight infection and facilitate the healing process.
- Firstly, take 1 tbsp. Of turmeric mix it with a little honey to form a paste. Next, apply it to the swollen area and wait for 10 minutes. Finally, rinse it off by using warm Repeat this remedy 2 times daily for 1 week.
- Drink 1 glass of warm milk mixed with turmeric 2 times
- Another option, take turmeric supplements after asking a doctor for dosages.
Calendula flower (pot marigold) can also help to give you relief from pain, swelling, and infection. Plant pharmacological studies found that calendula had anti-viral & anti-inflammatory effects that aid in enhancing the lymphatic function of your body.
- Firstly, infuse fresh calendula petals (1/4 cup) or dry calendula petals (1/8 cup) in 1 cup of hot water for about 5 minutes.
- Then, pour through a strainer.
- Next, add honey to it.
- Finally, drink this tea 2 to 3 times a day.
Similar to many home remedies for swollen lymph nodes, garlic is helpful in healing this condition. Garlic is one of the best ingredients to get rid of swollen lymph nodes you can do it at home daily because its anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce swelling & pain in the lymph nodes. In addition, this antibiotic food helps to cleanse the system, reduce the symptoms, and promote the healing process. Raw garlic clove is rich in allicin and other compounds and enzymes. It also fights off infection to bring relief from the swollen lymph nodes. However, avoid heating it because this destroys the allicin.
- Eat some raw garlic cloves a day and add garlic to your cooking.
- Massage the affected area with a little garlic oil for several minutes, 2 to 3 times a day.
- Or, take a garlic supplement every day, after consulting a doctor.
Peppermint oil is used to treat many common respiratory & digestive problems. It isn’t surprising that this oil is also one of the natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes. This oil not only helps to relieve the pain but also kills the bacteria causing your discomfort thanks to its antibacterial effects.
- Firstly, massage several drops of peppermint oil on your affected area for about 5 minutes.
- Then, use a warm compress for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Follow this way several times per day.
One of the other effective home remedies for swollen lymph nodes is massage. Massage aids in stimulating the lymph nodes, which help them to function normally. In addition, this helps to reduce the swelling over time. Also, it reduces the buildup of impurities in your nodes.
- Use your fingers to gently massage your lymph nodes for 5 minutes. Do this process 2 or 3 times a day until the swelling disappears.
- You may also hire a professional in order to give you a great lymph drainage massage.
16. Tea Tree Oil
In India, tea tree oil is extremely effective in fighting against bacteria and infections. Many studies show that after applying tea tree essential oil, there is an immediate impact followed by a natural slow-release effect over 24 hours. It means that after applying tea tree oil, there is a cellular response initially, and then this oil continues working in the body to combat the infection.
You can diffuse tea tree oil at home, apply it topically to your affected area, or inhale it from a bottle. When using this oil on your skin, you should use only several drops after diluting it with equal parts of coconut oil.
Your lymphatic system generally works on the contraction of the muscles. And blood circulation does not play any role in your lymphatic system. Exercising your neck muscles helps you to recover from this issue fast.
- Regularly walk for half an hour daily to give a warm-up to your muscular system
- After the walk, you should sit straight on a chair with the back straight
- Turn your neck in a slow clockwise circular motion then in the counter-clockwise direction.
- Now, do the neck rotation for 20 to 30 times
You can also do any other exercises for 30 or 40 minutes daily that will help to give activity to the muscles of your body.
Honey is one of the other natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes that you should try. Its anti-inflammatory effect helps to relieve pain & swelling. Moreover, its antibacterial effects aid in fighting the infection that causes this problem. Mix 1-2 of raw honey and a little lemon juice in a glass of water. Then, drink it 2 times daily for 1 week. Or, apply a little raw honey on your swollen area, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, and then remove it with warm water. Follow this way 2 or 3 times a day until the swelling goes away.
19. Oregano Oil
According to a study published in the Frontiers in Microbiology in 2020, oregano oil contains potent antibacterial effects that help fight against several antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. This oil showed its bactericidal effects against 17 strains that were strictly tested. Also, oregano oil is effective in fighting fungal and viral infections.
To treat an infection causing swollen lymph nodes, take this oil internally for at least 2 weeks. When you take it internally, remember to dilute it with a little water or combine it with coconut oil.
20. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is considered one of the natural home remedies for swollen lymph nodes. It attaches to the cell membranes of bacteria directly and produces a respiration-blocking effect. Unlike other antibiotic drugs, it does not create immunity or resistance in the organisms. Instead, it destroys pathogens causing diseases and infections within several minutes of exposure.
Also, colloidal silver displays an anti-inflammatory property and can aid in reducing the pain & swelling related to swollen lymph nodes. Take 1 drop of the colloidal silver internally or pour 5 drops of the colloidal silver into a neti pot in order to treat an infection. Remember that you should avoid using it for more than 2 weeks.
21. Astragalus Root
Astragalus root is also beneficial in treating swollen lymph nodes that are caused due to a viral infection. This is because it is composed of powerful antiviral, anti-inflammatory, & antimicrobial properties. Astragalus is often used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating a wide sort of diseases and disorders thanks to its immune-boosting effects.
You may take astragalus tincture or capsules, or buy it in the dried form and then add it to boiling water to make tea.
Always consult with your doctor first before taking any of these herbal remedies.
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