|It is common for your child's glands, or lymph nodes to become enlarged (lymphadenopathy), usually as part of a specific infection, causing lumps or bumps in the neck and other areas of the body. Lymph nodes contain cells that produce antibodies to help your body fight infections. During an infection, the lymph nodes that are near the site of infection can enlarge as more cells are produced to fight the infection.
- An enlarged gland in the neck area is usually caused by a sore throat, a tooth infection or other infection inside the mouth.
- Glands in your arm pits (axillary nodes) and neck can enlarge after infections in your arms (especially after being scratched by a cat, causing Cat Scratch Disease).
- There are also glands in the back of your head and behind the ears that can enlarge if there is any inflammation of the scalp.
- Eye infections can cause the glands in front of your ears to enlarge and glands in the groin area can enlarge with infections of the legs.
- Swimmer's ear can cause the glands in front of and behind your ear to enlarge.
It is also possible for lymph nodes themselves to become infected (lymphadenitis), and they will enlarge quickly, become red and tender and will probably require treatment with antibiotics.
Glands that are swollen and are not red or tender are usually not anything to worry about, and they will usually return to normal one to two weeks after the infection resolves, but it may take months, especially in preschool or school age children. Talk to your doctor if your child has swollen glands all over his body, if he has swollen glands and is having nightly fever or is loosing weight, or if he has a swollen gland that is continuing to enlarge or is not going away after a few weeks.