Swollen Lymph Nodes and HIV

Lymph nodes are shaped like beans and occupy different areas of the body like your neck or armpit in cluster form. The body is more susceptible to swelling in the regions where lymph nodes are located. The swelling of lymph nodes is usually a dangerous sign and a lot of people who want to find out the causes often search words like "swollen lymph nodes, HIV" on the internet. Although HIV is a possible cause, there are a variety of other problems that can lead to swollen lymph nodes.

How Is HIV and Swollen Lymph Nodes Related?

1. HIV and Swollen Lymph Nodes Are Connected

Lymph node swelling can be the direct result of a bacterial or viral infection, like HIV infection. Lymph nodes stay hidden normally. When an infection enters the body, the lymph gland closest to infection site starts to swell. This creates bean sized bumps on the outer skin.

In some cases of swollen lymph nodes, HIV infection can be the culprit. Under this circumstance, the swelling is most noticeable in the region around the neck, armpits and groin. When the infection grows, lymph nodes in other areas of the body also start to swell noticeably.

2. How to Treat It

The treatment of the swelling depends entirely on the cause behind it. Swelling caused by viral infections is usually treated with antibiotics. However, HIV remains a different kettle of fish than other virus types.

  • To treat HIV-induced swollen lymph nodes, proper virus treatment is necessary. Antiretroviral treatments prove effective in minimizing the symptoms and in preventing HIV from spreading to other parts of the body.
  • You can always use OTC pain relievers, warm compresses and HIV medicines to help with the pain and the swelling. While home remedies may bring the swelling down, they can't replace HIV medications which bring down the speed with which the immunity system disintegrates.
  • If you notice swelling of lymph nodes while being on HIV medications, it may be an indication of the presence of another infection. In this case, you'd better get in touch with your doctor to investigate what it means.

Other Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes

While your mind may directly make the swollen lymph nodes-HIV infection connection, it's best to remember that such swelling may be a result of any of the following conditions and not just HIV.

1. Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis is basically a bacterial infection and is caused by the contagious mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection site is the lungs and neck lymph nodes swelling is one of the first signs of the condition. Other symptoms may include cough (accompanied by blood), fatigue and weight loss.

Treatment: The treatment begins with a combination of drugs. The patient is kept at the hospital or at home for around a month to ensure that the disease does not spread to others.

2. Lymph Node Tuberculosis

Lymph node tuberculosis is caused by different types of bacterial infections. It can make your lymph nodes around your neck and other areas swell. The swelling is painless though it can last for a couple of months. People suffering from co-existing disease or extensive disease may also experience symptoms like fatigue, loss of weight and fever.

Treatment: The kind of bacterial infection causing the condition decides the treatment. While some types are treated with surgery (like nontuberculosis mycobacterium), other types are treated through antibiotics (like mycobacterium tuberculosis).

3. Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is the name given to a certain type of viral infection. It mostly affects teenagers as well as people in their early twenties. The main symptoms of mononucleosis include fatigue, dizziness, sore throat and swelling of the neck's lymph glands.

Treatment: There is no specific treatment for mononucleosis and antibiotics don't have the desired effect in these cases. Complete bed rest accompanied with an increased intake of fluids usually does the trick though.

4. Hodgkin's lymphoma

Hodgkin's lymphoma is the name given to the cancer that affects lymph tissue of lymph nodes, liver, spleen and bone marrow. It is greatly curable if diagnosed early. The earliest indicator of Hodgkin's lymphoma is lymph node inflammation in the neck, groin and armpits. Other major indicators of the condition are fever, fatigue, unexplained general itching and loss of weight and appetite.

Treatment: Chemotherapy and radiotherapy or the combination of both is the main treatment. Stem cell transplant is also done in a few cases.

5. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the cancer that affects lymph tissue. Research says that people who have a weak immune system tend to develop the condition more often. The main symptoms of the condition include swollen of the neck, groin and armpit lymph nodes, pain in the abdomen and head, coughing and breathing problems.

Treatment: The treatment consists of either chemotherapy,  radiotherapy or a combination of both. Stem cell transplant is also done in a few cases. Blood and platelet transfusions are also done in cases the blood count drops to dangerously low levels.

6. Leukemia

Leukemia is the name given to the cancer that affects WBCs (white blood cells). Early symptoms of leukemia are armpit and neck lymph nodes swelling, and high fevers. People also experience symptoms like fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of weight and pain in joints and bones.

Treatment: A patient's age and leukemia type decide the course of treatment. Radiation, biological therapy, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant and chemotherapy remain main treatment options.

7. Other Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes

Except the swollen lymph nodes-HIV connection and the above 6 causes, there are some other conditions that can lead to swelling of the lymph nodes.

  • Measles
  • Ear infections
  • Abscessed tooth
  • STDs like syphilis
  • Parasitic infections like Toxoplasmosis
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
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