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The Lympathic System.

What are the lymph nodes in the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is part of our immune system. It is composed of lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and fluid. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped areas that house some of our immune cells including T cells and B cells which help to fight off infections.

When the body encounters a pathogen such as a bacteria or virus that it needs to get out of the body the lymph nodes become active sending out immune cells to the site of the infection through the lymph vessels. Once these immune cells (T cells and B cells) reach the site of the infection they destroy the pathogen so that it can be removed from the body.
Where lymph nodes are located in the body and how many are there?
There are hundreds of lymph nodes all over the body. The nodes are found in groups in specific areas, especially where our bodies encounter bacteria and viruses. Therefore, there are many nodes around our throats.

1. Pre-auricular (in front of the ear)

2. Post-auricular (behind the ear)

3. Occipital (back of the head at the base of the neck)

4. Anterior cervical & Posterior Cervical (on the side of the neck)

5. Deep Cervical (deep on the side of the neck)

6. Submandibular (under your jaw bone)

7. Submental (under your chin)

8. Supraclavicular & Infraclavicular (above & under your collar bone)

9. Inguinal (in the groin area)

10. Axillary (in the armpit)

Where lymph nodes located in the body and how many are there?
The mouth is one of the main ways that viral infections and bacterial infections can enter the body. The main groups of lymph nodes can be felt through the skin when they are active. There are also nodes in different pockets throughout the abdomen which cannot be felt.

What causes swollen lymph nodes in the body?
Lymph nodes become swollen when they are active. They are active when the immune system is trying to mount a response to something in the body. When the body recognizes that there is some time of pathogen in the body such as a bacterium or a virus it sends a message to the lymph nodes telling them to start producing immune cells that are going to fight off the bacteria and virus. This causes the lymph nodes to get swollen, hard and sometimes tender to touch. Once the infection is gone and the immune cells are no longer activated the lymph nodes shrink back to their normal size when they can’t usually be felt.

When lymph nodes are sore?
When lymph nodes are sore it often means that the immune system in the body is activated and fighting infection.

Lymph nodes become tender to touch and swollen because:

They are constantly being activated to produce more immune cells
The location of the swollen lymph node is often near the infection
Lymph nodes that are chronically sore should be evaluated for more serious underlying conditions.

When lymph nodes are sore?
Why is my lymph node swollen?
Most often lymph nodes are swollen in acute situations when the body is becoming infected. This will usually last until the duration of the infection and then they return to their normal size, which cannot usually be felt. Sometimes they can become chronically swollen. Lymph nodes that are chronically swollen and palpable should be looked at and evaluated for a more serious underlying condition.

Where to check swollen lymph nodes?
The most common areas to find swollen lymph nodes are around the ears, jaw and neck. The area that the swollen lymph nodes are swollen is related to where the infection is occurring in the body. The immune system locates the infections and then activates the lymph nodes closest to the site of the infection to start sending immune cells to the infection site. The goal is to have the immune cells travel the least amount of distance possible to get to the infection site. When you have an acute infection, it is important to check the areas closest to where you feel the symptoms. For example, if you have a sore throat check the lymph nodes around the jaw, under the chin and on the neck. If you have an ear infection check the lymph nodes around the ear. If you have a urinary tract infection or bladder infection you could check the lymph nodes around the groin.

Where to check swollen lymph nodes?
When are swollen lymph nodes bad?
Swollen lymph nodes are not usually bad. They are usually a sign that our body is fighting infection. When a swollen lymph node can indicate a more serious condition is when they are chronically swollen. This means that one specific node or one group of nodes is always swollen, hard, immobile or tender even where there is no source of infection. In this case, it is important to get the node checked out for a more serious condition. Always consult your health care practitioner in this situation. While chronically swollen lymph nodes can be completely normal it is important to rule out other causes. If there are weight loss and night sweats associated with enlarged lymph nodes a biopsy may be needed.

What are some remedies for swollen lymph nodes?
There are many different remedies for swollen lymph nodes and lymph glands. One of the reasons for enlarged lymph nodes is because of an infection, therefore treating the infection will help to decrease the pressure and activation that is being put on the nodes themselves. This will help to decrease further swelling and allow the lymphatic tissue to function optimally.

In addition, remedies that stimulate the flow of lymph can help decrease swelling in of the lymph nodes. Part of the job of the lymphatic system and lymphatic vessels is to remove any excess waste from the body. During an acute infection or activation of the nodes, congestion can occur causing fluid to build up in the area exacerbating the swollen glands. Some remedies will help to stimulate the lymphatic fluid decreasing congestion and swelling in the system. These remedies are known as lymphatics. Some herbal lymphatics include cleavers (gallium aparine), marigold (calendula Officinalis), phytolacca, dandelion (taraxacum Officinalis) and red clover (Trifolium pratense). These herbs help to stimulate the flow of lymph moving waste products away from areas of inflammation.

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Lymphatic remedies can be prepared as herbals and as homeopathic preparations to achieve this function. Pascoe Lymphdiaral drops act through the lymphatic system to help decrease symptoms of swelling, and reduce inflammation. Other remedies to support the lymphatic system and swollen lymph nodes include manual lymph massage across the lymph channels and dry brushing.

When should you go to the doctor for swollen lymph nodes?
It is important to go to the doctor if you have chronically swollen nodes without an infection. In addition, it is important to go to the doctor if your adenoid tonsils (which are full of lymph nodes) become so swollen that they are impacting one’s ability to speak, swallow or breathe. In some cases, the lymph nodes that make up the tonsils can become overactive and can cause more problems than they help in the body.

It is also important to go to the doctor in the acute infection that the body is fighting becomes too intense. This includes a severely high fever, any trouble of breathing, loss of consciousness, severe vomiting etc. or if the infection is lasting for longer than it should. This can indicate that the immune system is not responding in the way that it should, and extra help might be needed.

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