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Swollen Lymph Glands (cont.)

How to Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes

A lymph node that is rapidly growing over one to two days has a different cause and treatment than generalized swelling of lymph nodes that occurs over a few months. Tell a doctor about any rapidly growing nodes at the time of examination because this helps establish a diagnosis.

  • Standard treatment for swollen lymph nodes may include pain relievers and medicine to lower a fever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Home remedies such as warm compresses and elevation may help reduce and resolve swelling.
  • If the cause of the swelling is infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications.
  • If there is a localized pocket of infection (abscess), it may need to be drained by cutting open the skin, draining the infected fluids, and then filling the opening with packing.
  • For swelling due to malignancy, the treatment may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
  • If a person has an immune disorder, he/she may be prescribed medication to help with the disease.

Swollen Lymph Nodes Self-Care at Home

If a person has symptoms of a cold or other minor infection for which they may or may not take antibiotics, it takes about two weeks for the nodes to return to normal size. No specific treatment is needed.

  • If the nodes are small (less than 2 cm or 3/4 of an inch), are in the groin or under the chin, and you are a young adult, this is considered normal.
  • Children tend to have a more active lymphatic system, so their nodes may feel enlarged.

Swollen Lymph Nodes Prognosis

In the majority of cases, swollen lymph nodes resolve with no other concerns.

However, in cases of serious systemic infections, patients with compromised immune systems, and patients with cancers, lymph node swelling may be chronic and may never resolve.


American Cancer Society. "Lymph Nodes and Cancer." 14 April 2015.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Lyphadenitis." 12 March 2016.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017

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