Which came first… the MRSA Infection or the Swollen Lymph Nodes? Though nobody may know if the chicken or the egg came first, in the case of MRSA and swollen lymph nodes, physicians can determine which came first, but it is complicated.

Diseases that cause lymph nodes to swell can weaken the immune system and cause enlarged nodes to come first with MRSA following because of the increased risk of infection from a weakened state or increased risk from medical treatments.

As for MRSA it can come first because it also weakens the immune system increasing the risk of opportunistic diseases that can cause the nodes to enlarge in addition to swelling as the body fights bacteria.

Illnesses and Diseases that Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes

Though MRSA can cause the nodes to swell, the infection is commonly noticed before the nodes draw attention. Cancer is the first disease that comes to mind when people hear about swollen lymph glands. It can cause it but it is not the most common reason. Other illnesses and diseases that cause the lymph nodes to swell:

Injury, surgery, and certain medication can also cause lymph nodes to swell. Sometimes MRSA will come before swollen lymph glands are seen or felt.

MRSA Symptoms and Enlarged Lymph Nodes

When there are bacteria present in the body the lymph will filter it through the nodes to destroy and then remove it from the body. Viruses, cancer, and other pathogens in the body are treated the same way as the bacteria. When MRSA comes first, swollen lymph nodes will follow as the body fights off the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The following can increase the risk of a MRSA infection:

  • Previous antibiotic treatments
  • Prosthetic device in the body
  • Poor hygiene
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Caregivers spreading the bacteria
  • Undiagnosed colonization
  • Residents in group homes

Everyone has these bacteria along with many other types on their skin, which makes it first in some competitions. It is part of the natural flora of the skin that includes many beneficial bacteria that keep harmful bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus from causing an infection or illness. It is a delicate balance that can get out of balance with antibiotic use and excessive use of antibacterial products.

Additional Information – Inguinal Lymph Nodes

Determining which is First, MRSA or swollen lymph nodes

There are tests that a physician can order to help answer the question as to which came first the bacteria or the swollen lymph gland, but when MRSA is present, the first priority will be to get it under control immediately to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body and causing a life threatening infection. Once it is responding to treatment further tests may be done to determine if there are other medical conditions that contributed to the MRSA infection. If there was a recent surgery, test will be done to determine if the infection was acquired during the medical procedure or from the facility.


MRSA can be treated with antibiotics but there are fewer choices for effective treatment. Swollen lymph nodes are treated by treating the disease, infection, or injury that caused the swelling. For more information on lymph nodes go to MayoClinic.com and for MRSA go to MedlinePlus.