In the first place, we want to tell you that in many cases the inflammation of the lymph nodes is not of excessive importance, especially if it is due to infections. However, it is always advisable to check the status of the lymph nodes to rule out other diseases and if they become inflamed, it is better to go to the doctor.
Those little bumps that sometimes appear in our neck a little inflamed, when, for example, we catch cold, are called lymph nodes. They are essential for our body and act as filters of tissue fluid (lymph). They have the shape of an almond, little more than a centimeter, and are forming a kind of bunches in our neck, armpits, groin, thorax and abdomen. If you ever notice that you become inflamed, the first thing you should do is stay calm and remember that more than half of the time is due to normal causes. However, it is always better to receive a doctor’s diagnosis. Below we explain the functions of the lymph nodes and the cause of their inflammation.
What is the function of the lymph nodes?
Basically we could say that the lymph nodes fulfill the following functions:
- They filter the lymph of foreign substances, such as bacteria and cancer cells, and destroy them.
- They produce white blood cells , such as lymphocytes and plasma cells, responsible for destroying foreign substances.
- The lymphatic system is structured similarly to blood vessels.
- They defend our immune system .
- The lymph nodes have a different shape and size. For example, under the jaw, they are flat, bean-shaped and about a centimeter large. The nape of the neck are around 0.5 centimeters and shaped like lentils. And the nodes in the groin are elongated and a little more than 1.5 centimeters.
Why are the lymph nodes swollen?
The ganglia can be inflamed for many causes . Since its main function is to protect our immune system, they are very sensitive to any change. It can be due to causes without excessive importance or to have more serious origins, such as, for example, cancer . But let’s look more closely at the possible causes of this inflammation:
- Normal infections due to colds, flu, tonsillitis
- Specific bacterial infections: syphilis, tuberculosis, salmonellosis
- Lupus infections
- Viral infections such as rubella, measles
- Infections by other pathogens such as malaria, leishmaniasis
- Rheumatic diseases
- Inflammation of the lymph nodes due to medications: perchlorate, cotrimoxazole, hydantoin
- Stress, poor sleep, poor diet, lack of nutrients
- The lymph nodes can be inflamed at times due to lymphomas , tumoral diseases, treatable a large proportion, as, for example, benign (non-carcinogenic) neoplasms. However, we must bear in mind that the risk of the appearance of so-called malignant lymphomas is present, and each of our changes and symptoms must be placed under medical supervision.
First assessments of the lymph nodes
It is clear that our doctor will make a diagnosis and tell us about the measures to take. However, what you will always take into account at the time of asking, will be the following aspects:
- Have you had a cold or flu?
- Where do you have the swollen ganglion? Neck, armpit, clavicle?
- When did you start to notice it? Was it suddenly or did it grow little by little?
- You feel pain?
- Have you had previous illnesses?
- Do you take medication?
- Have you been traveling recently?
- Have you lost weight?
All this will allow him to detect, since in most of the times the inflammations of the ganglia originate from previous diseases, where our immune system has not yet recovered. Sometimes it is due to medication or bacteria … With our help and the relevant tests the doctor can explain the cause of the inflammation.
Data to keep in mind
Most inflammations of the lymph nodes are located in the neck, and their origin is almost always due to infections of the neck or mouth. These do not have excessive importance. However, it is necessary to control that their size is not excessively large: when they exceed 4 cm, you have to do a biopsy.
Remember also that just as the neck ganglia are usually harmless, those located in the clavicle, whatever their size, are always considered dangerous and it is essential to treat them quickly, since they tend to be carcinogenic.
How to prevent problems and take care of our lymph nodes
One of the keys to prevent, as far as possible, the inflammation of the lymph nodes, is undoubtedly strengthen our immune system . For this it is important that we consume the following foods daily:
Essential for the immune system; combat infection, viruses, protect our cells, etc. You can find it in citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, mangoes, tomatoes, etc.
It increases the production of white blood cells, protecting us against cancer and bacteria. It is present in most fruits and vegetables and nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios, almonds …
Foods rich in beta-carotene
They have antioxidants, fight against free radicals and strengthen our defenses. It is essential that you consume carrots, corn, watermelon, cabbage, beetroot, pumpkin, asparagus, apricots …
Selenium and zinc
They help us produce more cells, providing us with energy for the immune system. What products contain selenium and zinc? It is very simple: whole grains, Brazil nuts, the vast majority of nuts, seafood, soy, etc.