Lymphadenitis is the term that is used when the lymph nodes are diseased. Whenever there is a swollen lymph node, it is cause of concern because the first thought is the possibility of malignancy, but most commonly the cause of lymph node swelling is infection, which is a benign.

The lymph node disease can be acute, sub-acute, or chronic. Treatment will depend on the cause of the lymphadenitis.


The cause of lymphadenitis can be malignancy or infection. Though sometimes cancer does cause lymphadenitis, often the cause is infection. The lymph nodes closest to the infection will swell and enlarge as the do their job of fighting the infection. Infections can come from a variety of sources. It may be from something common like a sinus infection or it may be more serious, like MRSA. Only a healthcare provider can determine the cause of enlarged lymph nodes.

Some of the acute infections that can cause swollen lymph glands include the following:

Tumors like Hodgkin lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, metastasis, Virchow’s node, and Neuroblastoma can cause lymphadenitis. Autoimmune diseases, insect bites, and snakebites can also cause lymph node disease.

Additional Information – Swollen Lymph Node Reasons


When lymphadenitis is diagnosed, treatment will depend on the cause. For infections, the treatment will include antibiotics and possible surgery to lance an infection or removed infected tissue. For lymphadenitis that is caused by cancer the treatment can include radiation, chemotherapy, and possibly surgery. Lymph nodes that are suspected of being cancerous will be removed and tested. Lymphadenitis is not always caused by infection. It can be from inflammation or cancer. When cancer causes lymph nodes to become swollen and enlarged, it can be from cancer in the lymph nodes, like with lymphoma. Lymphadenitis can also occur because cancer has spread from other areas of the body, which is known as metastatic or secondary cancer. Noninfectious and benign (infectious) lymphadenitis is treated differently.

Read More – Lymph Node Surgery


Benign lymphadenitis is also referred to as reactive lymphadenitis. This type of lymph node disease has three patterns, which include the following:

  • Paracortical hyperplasia – common with viral infections, skin diseases, and nonspecific reactions
  • Sinus histiocytosis – common with limb draining lymph nodes, inflammatory lesions, and malignancies
  • Follicular hyperplasia – common with infections, autoimmune disorders, and nonspecific reactions

This type of lymph node disease is not cancerous.


Often swollen lymph nodes are from an infection. After an infection runs its course or it is treated successfully, the lymph nodes will return to normal size. In the event of lymphadenitis, a medical professional will need to determine the cause of the lymph node disease to treat in successfully.