Swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands)

Picture of swollen glands (lymph nodes) and normal lymph node

Illustration copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures in the body that are sometimes incorrectly called "glands." They are part of the lymphatic system, which carries lymph fluid, nutrients, and waste material between the body tissues and the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which is the body's defense system against disease.

Lymph nodes are found singly or in groups. They may be as small as the head of a pin or as large as an olive. Groups of lymph nodes can be felt in the neck, groin, and underarms. Many lymph nodes in the body cannot be felt.

When a part of the body is infected, the nearby lymph nodes can become swollen. For example, if a person has a throat infection, the lymph nodes in the neck may swell and become tender.

Last Updated: September 8, 2009

Author: Maria Essig

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

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