Swollen lymph nodes



Lymph nodes are immune system glands that usually swell in response to a bacterial or viral infection. Rarely, swollen lymph nodes are caused by cancer.


Rest, and apply a warm, moist compress to the swollen area. Pain relievers available without a prescription also may provide relief, but don't give aspirin to children.

When to seek immediate medical care

Seek medical care immediately if swollen lymph nodes are accompanied by:

  • Sore throat or difficulty swallowing.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Redness or pain in the area of the lymph nodes.

When to make a doctor's appointment

Make an appointment to see a health care professional if swollen lymph nodes:

  • Have no obvious cause.
  • Grow and are painful.
  • Last for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Feel hard or rubbery or seem fixed to the skin.
  • Are accompanied by persistent fever, night sweats or unexplained weight loss.