Hodgkin's lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease is diagnosed in fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States each year. This form of cancer starts in the white blood cells located in the lymphatic system. Treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma include chemotherapy and radiation and stem-cell transplants in extreme cases. As the disease progresses, it severely limits the body's ability to fight off infections, causing many secondary symptoms.
When cancerous cells develop in the lymphatic system, the lymph nodes become inflamed and swollen. The swelling can range in severity, sometimes becoming quite apparent and turning the glands into hard, painful knots. This symptom is why it is important to see a medical professional whenever lasting lymph node changes are not clearly related to a sore throat or other minor infection.
As with many serious ailments, Hodgkin's lymphoma often causes prolonged fatigue. Unlike general tiredness due to a lack of sleep or overexertion, fatigue lingers and will not be alleviated by sleep. This lethargy may come and go, and it typically increases during the later stages of the disease.
Another early warning sign of Hodgkin's lymphoma is sudden, unexplained weight loss. In addition to occurring regardless of lifestyle or dietary habits, weight loss caused by cancer and other serious health concerns often begins suddenly. It is usually at least a ten percent loss of your original body weight.
Another symptom of Hodgkin's lymphoma is night sweats, which some experts believe are linked to the progression of the lymphoma and the body's attempts to fight off the infection. They may both require the mobilization of special cells like cytokines and other immune cells, activities that can trigger night sweats. This symptom often comes and goes and could vary in intensity from one night to the next.
Fever is one of the most common symptoms of Hodgkin's lymphoma, though it is far from indicative of the disease. Studies suggest the sudden release of chemicals in the bloodstream raise body temperature, resulting in sweating. Chills follow, designed to cool the high temperature of the fever.
Another symptom of Hodgkin's lymphoma is an unexplained loss of appetite. Though this lack of hunger can trigger the unexpected weight loss mentioned previously, some people do experience weight loss without losing their appetites. Like extreme weight loss, this symptom is common in people with serious illnesses.
Hodgkin's lymphoma can also cause itching, and some forms can lead to a rash, especially a rare form called angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. The dryness and itching can be an early warning sign associated with dehydration, a common side effect of nausea and vomiting. However, the symptom is also due to the presence of cytokines, molecules that can irritate the nerves below the skin.
Hodgkin's lymphoma can cause alcohol intolerance or allergy, which can occur with varying intensity and may not affect the individual every time. The pain of the reaction is often felt in the lymph nodes of the neck and may persist for up to a week.
Nausea is a symptom of many diseases and conditions, both acute and chronic. Not only can Hodgkin's lymphoma cause nausea and vomiting, the medications one takes to treat the cancer can also have these side effects. People with the condition may experience anxiety following bouts of nausea, and doctors may prescribe or recommend over-the-counter medications to treat it.
One potentially severe symptom of Hodgkin's lymphoma is shortness of breath. Difficulty breathing deeply or catching one's breath can lead to difficulty completing many day-to-day activities that require even minimal exertion. Shortness of breath is often something people ignore or assume will pass; it is important to take note of this symptom when it appears in conjunction with other signs of lymphoma.
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