Most people will experience enlarged lymph nodes at some point and it is usually not something to be concerned about. In a small number of cases, enlarged lymph nodes can be a sign of a serious medical condition.


Your lymph nodes may enlarge from time to time and this often correlates with common illnesses, such as a cold or flu. Generally, you should speak with a doctor if you notice lymph nodes that remain enlarged for more than a couple of weeks. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to see if lymph node enlargement is associated with an underlying infection. If there is no change in the size of enlarged lymph nodes after a course of antibiotics, they may recommend further testing, such as imaging, blood work, or a lymph node biopsy.

Concurrent Symptoms

One concerning symptom that may occur with enlarged lymph nodes is fatigue in the absence of a viral infection. You may sleep more than normal and continue to feel tired even with sufficient sleep. Fatigue can also take the form of feeling exhausted with minimal effort, such as sitting up for long periods or doing normal activities. Respiratory symptoms are also concerning, such as a chronic cough or feeling short of breath for no reason.

Ongoing pain under your ribs or upper abdominal area may signal enlargement of organs, such as the spleen and liver. When your spleen becomes enlarged, you may feel full after eating small amounts of food or find that eating causes pain in your upper-left abdomen and it may radiate to your side and back. An enlarged liver may cause you to become jaundiced, meaning you have a yellow discoloration to your skin and eyes. Abnormal bleeding in the presence of enlarged lymph nodes should also be cause for concern. Bruising easily, minor injuries that bleed profusely, nosebleeds, and abnormally heavy menstrual periods are all considered abnormal bleeding.


Although any enlarged lymph node can be associated with an underlying infection or malignancy, some groups of lymph nodes are more suspicious than others. For example, the group of lymph nodes below your collar bone and closest to your armpit (infraclavicular lymph nodes) are considered "highly suspicious" when they become enlarged. They are more likely to be associated with blood cancers or metastatic breast cancer than other lymph node groups. Other lymph node groups that are easily felt when they are enlarged includes the ones along your neck, in the armpit, and the groin area. Since bacteria in the mouth, armpits, and groin are common, it is less concerning when lymph nodes in these areas are temporarily enlarged without any additional symptoms.

Although enlarged lymph nodes are common and usually associated with minor problems, it is important to know when to seek medical care. Finding out the underlying cause early can make treatments for serious medical conditions more effective.

For more information, you will want to contact a company such as Harvey Harold E II MD PLLC.