Lymphadenitis is inflammation of the lymph nodes . This gland is part of the lymphatic system which has an important role in keeping the body's immune system functioning properly.

Lymph nodes or lymph nodes are found in almost all parts of the body, including the neck, armpits, groin, as well as the abdominal and chest cavities. Lymph nodes are normally small in size, but will swell when infected.

Although they look similar, lymphadenitis and lymphadenopathy are different conditions. Lymphadenitis occurs due to infection in the lymph nodes. Meanwhile, lymphadenopathy is caused by various conditions that result in abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes, such as autoimmune diseases or leukemia .

Types of Lymphadenitis

Based on the extent of infection, lymphadenitis can be divided into two types, namely:

  • Local
    lymphadenitis In local lymphadenitis, inflammation occurs in several lymph nodes near the area of ​​origin of the infection. One example is inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck due to tonsil infection .
  • General lymphadenitis
    In this type, inflammation occurs in many lymph nodes due to an infection that has spread through the bloodstream. It can also be the result of other diseases that spread throughout the body.

Causes of Lymphadenitis

Lymphadenitis occurs as a result of the response of the lymph nodes to bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections . The microorganism can then spread the infection throughout the lymphatic system in just a few hours.

Some types of microorganisms that can cause lymphadenitis are:

  • Bacteria, such as Streptococcus , Staphylococcus aureus , Bartonella henselae (cat-scratch disease), Mycobacterium tuberculosis , Yersinia enterocolitica , Yersinia pestis , and Salmonella
  • Viruses, such as Cytomegalovirus , Epstein-Barr , Parvovirus , and Rubella
  • Fungi, such as Histoplasma capsulatum
  • Parasites, such as Toxoplasma

Risk factors for lymphadenitis

Although it can attack anyone, someone who has a history of consuming the drug hydantoin or mesantoin and people who have undergone organ transplantation are more at risk of being attacked by this disease.

In addition to the two factors above, lymphadenitis also often occurs in patients with weak immunity, for example those suffering from the following diseases:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Thalassemia
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Sarcoidosis

Symptoms of Lymphadenitis

Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system. In addition to lymph nodes, the lymphatic system also consists of the spleen, thymus , bone marrow, tonsils, and adenoids.

In the lymph nodes, there are white blood cells that work against harmful foreign substances, such as viruses and bacteria. When the microorganisms infect the body, the lymph nodes can swell and become inflamed in response to the infection, causing complaints of lymphadenitis.

Symptoms arising from lymphadenitis depend on the cause and location of the infection. Some of the symptoms that generally appear in lymphadenitis are:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin
  • Pain in the lymph nodes if palpated
  • Skin redness in the lymph node area
  • A collection of pus (abscess) in a swollen lymph gland
  • The discharge of fluid from swollen lymph nodes

When should you go to the doctor?

Check with your doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above, especially if the symptoms appear suddenly, last more than 5 days and worsen.

Immediately see a doctor if the above symptoms are accompanied by the following complaints:

  • Excessive sweating at night
  • Sudden weight loss
  • The fever did not improve
  • Symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection appear , such as a cold and pain when swallowing
  • Swelling in the limbs, which can indicate a blockage in the lymphatic system
  • Lymph nodes are enlarged and hard to the touch, which can be a sign of a tumor

Diagnosis of Lymphadentitis

As an initial step in diagnosis, the doctor will ask questions about symptoms, disease history, travel history, and contact history with cats or other animals. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination, including examining swollen lymph nodes.

To strengthen the diagnosis, the doctor will perform supporting examinations, such as:

  • Blood tests , to detect signs of infection and inflammation, such as an increase in the number of white blood cells and C-reactive protein
  • Blood and lymph fluid cultures, to identify the bacteria causing the infection and see if the infection has spread to the bloodstream
  • Taking a sample (biopsy) from the lymph nodes, to find out the cause of the inflammation
  • Scanning with USG, X-ray photo, PET scan, or CT scan , to detect any swollen lymph nodes, as well as detect the possibility of tumors in the lymph nodes

Treatment of Lymphadenitis

The treatment of lymphadenitis depends on the age, health history, condition and severity of the patient, as well as the cause of the lymphadenitis itself.

Keep in mind, the infection can spread to other organs of the body quickly, especially if the infection has spread to the lymph nodes. In this condition, the patient should be treated immediately.

The treatment that can be done to overcome lymphadenitis is:


The administration of medicines aims to overcome the infection and relieve the symptoms of pain, fever, and swelling. Medicines that can be given include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antivirus
  • Antifungal
  • Antiparasitic
  • Ibuprofen


Generally, surgery is performed to overcome lymphadenitis that has developed into an abscess. In the process, the doctor will anesthetize the area around the swollen lymph node, then make a small incision in the gland to drain the pus.

After the pus has been successfully removed, the doctor will sew and cover the incision with a sterile bandage.

To help alleviate the symptoms, the doctor will encourage the patient to do a number of the following ways:

  • Get enough rest
  • Taking pain relievers, such as paracetamol , ibuprofen, or naproxen
  • Do warm compresses to relieve pain or cold compresses with ice to reduce swelling and inflammation

Complications of Lymphadenitis

Lymphadenitis that is not treated immediately can cause complications. Complications that appear in each patient can be different, depending on the underlying cause.

Some of the complications are:

  • Cellulitis, which is the extension of the infection to the layer under the skin
  • Abscess, which is the formation of a collection of pus
  • Fistula , especially in lymphadenitis caused by tuberculosis
  • Sepsis , which is an infection that spreads throughout the body through the bloodstream

Prevention of Lymphadenitis

The best way to prevent lymphadenitis is to live a healthy lifestyle to avoid infection. Some of the efforts that can be made are:

  • Wash hands regularly with running water and soap
  • Get enough rest
  • Consume complete and balanced nutritious food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid sick people
  • Immediately treat wounds caused by animal scratches, by washing the wound, applying antiseptic , and covering it with sterile gauze
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