When should I worry about swollen lymph nodes?

Most swollen lymph nodes aren’t a cause for concern and will go away as your infection clears up.

See your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms that might indicate that something more serious is going on:

  • Lymph nodes that are 1+ inch in diameter.
  • Nodes that are very painful, hard, fixed to the skin or growing rapidly.
  • Nodes that are draining pus or other substances.
  • Symptoms like weight loss, night sweats, long-lasting fever, fatigue, difficulty breathing.
  • Swollen nodes close to your collarbone or lower part of your neck (this often points to cancer).
  • Red or inflamed skin over your swollen lymph nodes.

Are swollen lymph nodes ever fatal?

No, swollen lymph nodes aren’t fatal. Alone, they’re simply a sign that your immune system is fighting an infection or illness. However, in rare cases, swollen lymph nodes can point to serious conditions, such as cancer of the lymphatic system (lymphoma), which could potentially be fatal.

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