Children are constantly fighting off new germs and infections. Their lymphatic system quickly responds to these antigens. When this happens, lymph nodes often swell. This is known as lymphadenopathy. It’s common for children to have slightly enlarged lymph nodes in certain areas of the body some of the time.
But changes in the lymph nodes can also mean certain conditions or diseases that need special treatment. In some cases, swollen lymph nodes are caused by:
Lymphadenitis. This is infection of 1 or more
lymph nodes in which the glands often become suddenly sore and swollen, frequently
with redness of the overlying skin. Someone with lymphadenitis will often have a
fever, and the swollen glands could drain pus. Lymphadenitis is often caused by
bacteria such as streptococcus or staphylococcus. In some cases it is caused by
other bacteria, such as those that cause tuberculosis and syphilis.
Lymphangioma. This is a group of lymphatic vessels that
forms a mass or lump. A large lymphangioma has greatly enlarged lymphatic
Cystic hygroma. This is a
large pocket of lymph fluid (cyst). It is caused by blocked lymph vessels. A
cystic hygroma may have multiple cysts linked to one another by the lymphatic
Lymphoma. This is cancer of
the lymph system. The cancer causes the cells in the lymph system to reproduce
abnormally. It causes the lymph nodes to swell. And it makes the body less able to
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about your child’s health.