Swollen Glands

What causes swollen glands in children?
Swollen glands, called lymph nodes, are very common occurrence in children.  Lymph nodes help children fight infection, particularly viral infections in the head or neck areas.  Most swollen glands are found under the jaw or chin and are less than one inch in size, or about the size of a kidney beam, and are not tender to the touch.  Most glands will increase in size as a result of ear, nose, throat, and possibly scalp or skin infections.  Over several weeks (4-6) the glands will decrease in size to less than ½ inch, but swelling may persist for several months.
Are there any treatments for swollen glands?
Yes, if glands are tender to the touch, have overlying redness or feel like they are filled with fluid, then a bacterial infection may be present.  An antibiotic may be necessary to help fight the infection.  On rare occasions, swollen glands may need to be looked at by a surgeon to decide whether a biopsy needs to be performed.
Are there reasons to contact a physician for swollen glands?
Yes, the following symptoms suggest an underlying cause for swollen glands that requires your physician to examine your child.
·         Glands located under the arm, in the armpits.
·         Enlarged glands just above the collar bone.
·         Glands that are larger than one inch and are not decreasing in size over 4-6 weeks.
·         Glands that are tender to touch or feel warm.
·         Children with associated fever lasting longer than three days duration or with easy bruisability, nighttime sweating and/or weight loss.
·         A persistent cough or breathing difficulty associated with swollen glands.
·         Any swollen glands in infants under three months of age.
·         Children who have been exposed to tuberculosis.
·         Children who have received cat scratches.