Swollen Glands

Swollen gland that is in reality swollen or inflamed lymph node is a common presentation in situations when the body is trying to combat any type of infection. Although swollen glands can be reported in any part of the body but the most common sites are neck and throat region. This article will introduce symptoms, causes and remedies of swollen glands.

Symptoms of Swollen Glands

Most commonly reported symptoms of swollen glands are:

  • A visible and palpable mass that is about 2 to 3 inches in circumference or slightly larger due to inflammation. Under normal circumstances, lymph nodes are small and concealed under tissues and are thus non- palpable
  • Pain or tenderness on deep palpation or even on superficial palpation if lymph nodes are acutely inflamed
  • Mouth sores
  • Feeling of warmth and redness over inflamed skin

Causes of Swollen Glands


Infection of the soft tissues or hard tissues of your body is indeed one of the commonest reasons why you develop swollen glands. Whenever there is an ongoing infection within the body, the local draining nodes get enlarged.

  • In case of infection of tonsils, oral cavity, tooth abscess or ear, the lymph nodes in the neck region swell or get enlarged
  • With infections of arm, chest cavity, lungs and breast tissue, draining lymph nodes of arm-pit are the first to get inflamed.
  • In case of infection of legs, inguinal region or pelvic region, groin lymph nodes get inflamed and enlarged.


Malignancy is a less frequent cause of swollen gland and is associated with a much grave prognosis. This is because, invasion of lymph nodes indicate the malignant potential of the cancer.

  • Breast cancer involves lymph nodes of lateral chest cavity in case of cancer of outer quadrants. If inner quadrants of breast are involved, central chest cavity lymph nodes get enlarged
  • In case of throat cancer, lymph nodes of neck region are mostly affected
  • In case of malignancy of abdominal or chest cavity organs, the lymph node enlargement is usually less prominent and missed out on physical examination
  • Malignancy of hematopoietic system (blood cells) involves large number of lymph nodes almost throughout the body; however, the lymph node enlargement is slow and progressive and painless in most cases.

Home Remedies for Swollen Glands

Increase Fluids Intake

Increasing your fluid intake is helpful in many ways. Enhanced circulation bathes the lymph glands of your body and allows removal of toxins and irritants. You can increase your fluid intake by consuming more fresh juices, soups and other liquids.


Apply Warm Compresses

Applying warm compresses is helpful in many ways. You can get rid of soreness, swelling and inflammation that may help in decreasing the overall dose of pain-killers. Prepare warm compresses by soaking a small hand towel in warm water and applying at the side of swelling after squeezing excessive water to avoid dribbling,


Take Pain Relievers

Pain reliever medications are usually used when the infection of lymph nodes is associated with acute signs of inflammation like swelling, fever and redness. Any over the counter non- steroidal anti-inflammatory medication can be taken to relieve the symptoms.


Medical Treatments for Swollen Glands

Take Antibiotics or Antivirals

Depending upon the inciting agent, your healthcare provider may advise you antibiotics or antiviral medications to manage the infection

Drain the Abscesses

Abscesses (collection of pus) needs to be drained under local or general anesthesia to achieve early recovery

Use Medical Therapies or Surgery

In situations when the swelling of lymph nodes is due to metastasis of a primary tumor, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgical excision is necessary to prevent the spread of tumor.

Apply Immune Therapy

Certain immunological conditions may also lead to enlarged lymph nodes. Immune- therapy is needed in all such cases to manage the symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

It is recommended to see a doctor at your earliest convenience if you are beginning to develop these symptoms

  • Sudden and unexpected weight loss
  • The enlargement of lymph nodes is interfering with your normal day to day activities
  • Complications like high grade fever (more than 104 deg. Fahrenheit)
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling is increasing in size, does not improve even after 2 weeks or night sweats, fatigue and lethargy
  • Lymph nodes are adherent to the overlying skin, are immobile and hard in texture
  • Swelling is increasing in size or dimension or neighboring structures of the lymph nodes are also being affected