There are more than 600 lymph nodes throughout the body. They are a part of the lymphatic system, a network of vessels responsible for carrying a clear liquid called lymph into the skin cells and throughout the organs. Lymph nodes contain millions of infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. When the body contracts an infection or disease, the lymphocytes act as filters, trapping the infection, virus, or bacteria, and swell as a result. Swollen lymph nodes are called lymphadenopathy.
Swollen lymph nodes are not a disease, but a symptom of an illness or an infection. Fungal infections, bacterial infections, or viral infections can cause the lymph nodes to swell, announcing the presence of a condition such as an upper respiratory infection, tonsillitis, or conjunctivitis. Which lymph nodes swell indicates the location of the infection; for instance, if there is a swollen lymph node in the jaw area, the infection likely affects the mouth or the teeth. In most cases, lymphadenopathy is not serious.
Receive updates on the latest news and alerts straight to your inbox.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.