Can Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

If you’ve ever had a sore throat, you know what swollen lymph nodes feel like: tender to the touch and painful when you swallow. While the most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is an infection from bacteria or viruses, another lesser-known culprit is allergies! If you have been exposed to pollen, irritants, or other common allergens, it is possible to develop swollen lymph nodes. If you have experienced this and wonder if there is a deeper issue, don’t fear! There is a good chance these two are connected, and working with a specialist to identify, diagnose, and create an effective treatment plan for your symptoms is the best way to get you back to feeling your best.

First, let’s take a look at a few of the most common allergy symptoms and how they could be related to swelling of the lymph nodes.

5 Common Allergy Symptoms and How They Affect Your Lymph Nodes

If you suffer from allergies at certain times of the year, you may be very familiar with these top five allergy symptoms and what triggers them. However, everyone is different so you may experience one, three, or all five of these symptoms or some more severely than others.

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Rashes or hives

Now, how do these all connect to swollen lymph nodes? Well, first let’s identify what lymph nodes are and the role they play in the body. 

Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped glands located in the neck, groin, armpits, and various other places and are connected by something called lymph vessels. The vessels carry fluid containing white blood cells, protein, and fat to the nodes. The nodes then filter out foreign substances and destroy germs, viruses, and bacteria that enter the body. When lymph nodes swell, this means the body is under attack and the immune system needs to get rid of harmful substances—it’s trying to fight off a bacterial or viral infection.

Lymph nodes can also swell due to an allergic reaction. The allergic response triggers the lymphatic system because allergies weaken the immune system causing the body to become more susceptible to viruses and infections. When you think about it – the body is just doing its primary job: keeping you safe and healthy!

While that can provide some peace of mind, swollen lymph nodes can be fairly uncomfortable when left untreated. Is there anything that can be done to lessen the pain? The short answer: yes!

How To Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes from Allergies

Relief is in sight if you are experiencing any pain associated with swollen lymph nodes from allergies. Here are a few strategies:

  • Take an over-the-counter allergy medication: Symptoms like runny nose, cough, and congestion are caused by histamine, a chemical that is released in response to an allergen entering the body. Taking an antihistamine blocks histamine which can help reduce allergy symptoms and, as a result, swollen lymph nodes as well.
  • Apply warm compresses: When warm compresses are applied to the lymph nodes it can help temporarily relieve the pain.
  • Get enough rest: Maintaining good sleep hygiene is essential for the body and its systems to keep functioning properly, especially the immune system, which is what’s triggered when the lymph nodes swell.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated is another important part of maintaining a healthy immune system. Exact intake recommendations depend on age, activity level, the climate you live in, and more, but regularly drinking water throughout the day is a great way to support your body.
  • Take pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce the pain and tenderness associated with swollen lymph nodes.

What To Do If You Have Swollen Lymph Nodes from Allergies

We’ve identified why you may experience swollen lymph nodes as a result of allergies, and how to treat them, but what should you do next? The next best thing you can do is see an allergist. Most swollen lymph nodes are not considered serious and the issue typically resolves itself on its own in a few weeks. However, if you notice that your condition gets worse, the lymph nodes are more tender, red, or hard, or you are getting fevers or night sweats, it is best to seek professional help.

Treatment Options Available to Help You During Allergy Season in California

While remote appointments are more common now as a result of COVID-19, in-person is always a better option when you experience these kinds of symptoms. If you are lucky enough to live in California, it may be time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Buddiga! As an allergy specialist located in the Fresno, California area, he works 1:1 with his patients to get to the root of the issue and then create a custom treatment plan. Whether your symptoms are related to more traditional outdoor allergies from pollen, grass, and pet dander or less common allergies, like those from mold, Dr. Buddiga conducts thorough skin testing to determine what you are reacting to and why before recommending appropriate treatment.

The best way to schedule an appointment with Dr. Buddiga is to fill out the consultation form online.  His team will reach out to you by the end of the business day.

It is never too early to seek treatment from an allergist like Dr. Buddiga, especially if yours are ongoing or worsening. After your consultation, he can recommend how often you should be receiving treatment and if you will need follow-ups to ensure the treatment is working as it should.

If you do have a new lymph node that does not resolve within a few weeks that is persistent, painful or lumpy, I would contact your family doctor or Dr. Buddiga for further evaluation with an ultrasound or MRI scan or a referral to a specialist who is an expert with these conditions.

Allergy season is not going away any time soon, so if you or someone in your family has been suffering with debilitating symptoms or experiencing painful, swollen lymph nodes, there is relief in sight – and Dr. Buddiga can help you find it.

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