- Increased size of one or more lymph nodes. Most are in the neck.
- Also, includes swollen lymph nodes in the armpit or groin
- It's larger than the same node on the other side of the body
- Normal nodes are usually less than ½ inch (12 mm) across. This is the size of a pea or baked bean.
Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Neck Nodes. The cervical (neck) nodes are most commonly involved. This is because of the many respiratory infections that occur during childhood.
- Viral Throat Infection. This is the most common cause of swollen nodes in the neck. The swollen nodes are usually ½ to 1 inch (12 -25 mm) across. They are the same on each side.
- Bacterial Throat Infection. A swollen node with a bacterial throat infection is usually just on one side. It can be quite large; over 1 inch (25 mm) across. This is about the size of a quarter. Most often, it's the node that drains the tonsil.
- Tooth Decay or Abscess. This causes a swollen, tender node under the jawbone. Only one node is involved. The lower face may also be swollen on that side.
- Armpit Swollen Nodes. Causes include skin infections (such as impetigo). A rash (such as poison ivy) can do the same.
- Groin Swollen Nodes. Causes include skin infections (such as athlete's foot). A retained foreign object (such as a sliver) can be the cause.
- Shaving. Teen girls can cause low-grade infections when shaving the legs.
- Widespread Swollen Nodes. Swollen nodes everywhere suggest an infection spread in the blood. An example is infectious mono. Widespread rashes such as eczema can also cause all the nodes to enlarge.
- Normal Nodes. Lymph nodes can always be felt in the neck and groin. They are about the size of a bean. They never go away.
Lymph Nodes: What They Drain
- The lymph nodes are filled with white blood cells. They filter the lymph fluid coming from certain parts of the body. They fight infections.
- Neck Nodes in Front. These drain the nose, throat and lower face.
- Neck Nodes in Back. These drain the scalp.
- Armpit Nodes. These drain the arms and upper chest wall.
- Groin Nodes. These drain the legs and lower stomach wall.
Common Objects Used to Guess the Size
- Pea or pencil eraser: ¼ inch or 6 mm
- Dime: ¾ inch or 1.8 cm
- Quarter: 1 inch or 2.5 cm
- Golf ball: 1 ½ inches or 3.8 cm
- Tennis Ball: 2 ½ inches or 6.4 cm