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Adenitis results in swelling of the lymph nodes, and is classed by type. Although most people know that there are lymph nodes in the neck and groin, they are actually found throughout the rest of the body. The main symptoms of this condition, wherever it occurs, are pain and possibly drainage from the swelling.
Cervical adenitis refers to a lymph node or nodes in the neck that have become swollen. It is usually caused by bacteria and results in a very painful lump in the neck. The patient usually has a fever, and the node may appear as a red mass or feel very hot to the touch.
Mesenteric adenitis is swelling of one or more lymph nodes on the right side of the abdomen, usually above the appendix. Often, only one lymph node is affected. Bacterial or viral infection causes the swelling, which is often accompanied by fever. This type results in so much pain that it is frequently mistaken for appendicitis, and an accurate diagnosis may not be made until after a surgeon has removed a healthy appendix. Even ultrasound may mistake this condition for appendicitis, since the swollen lymph node can make the appendix appear compromised. Unlike appendicitis, however, the problem will generally resolve with antibiotic treatment if caused by bacteria.
Sebaceous adenitis affects the skin and typically causes the sebaceous glands to swell. This condition is also frequently noted in certain breeds of dogs, like the Akita. Sebaceous glands produce oil and keep skin lubricated, but in people with this condition, these glands become blocked and result in what appears to be skin eruptions. They are frequently noted on the face. Cyclosporine, an antibiotic, often helps resolve the condition.
Tuberculosis adenitis, also called scrofula, also affects the skin and particularly the lymph nodes around the neck. It can be easily diagnosed by testing for the presence of tuberculosis, and since this illness is now relatively rare, this condition is as well. Symptoms usually include one or more masses at the neck, fever, chills, and weight loss, although if left untreated, it can progress to open sores. Treatment involves antibiotics and may also necessitate removal of one or more affected lymph nodes since the swelling can damage nerves in the face. Recovery rates from this complication of tuberculosis are high, and in most cases, the condition will not recur.
Lymphadenitis may refer to any one gland affected by bacteria, but the lymph nodes most often affected include those in the groin and in the armpits. Antibiotic treatment usually cures this form. If the swelling in a lymph node is caused by the abnormal growth of cells, this may be called lymphadenopathy. This may be caused by Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is also a symptom of cutaneous anthrax.
Anyone suspecting adenitis or lymphadenopathy should see a medical professional to determine what's causing it and best method of treatment. As well, since medical professionals now suspect that about 10% of cases of appendicitis are actually mesenteric adenitis, inquiring about this possibility may be of use in diagnosis of either condition.