Lymphadenitis means inflammation in the lymph nodes. This can be generalized or localized. This condition usually points to some infection or inflammation. A common example of this is tonsillitis, where the tonsil glands are swollen and inflamed, usually due to repeated infections involving the throat. Generalized swelling of the lymph glands may point to more serious infections like HIV and tuberculosis, or may be indicators of serious diseases like cancer. Filariasis causes significant inflammation of the lymph glands and lymphatic channels, usually in the lower limbs, resulting in gross edema of the feet.
Clinical examination and relevant medical tests usually help pinpoint the exact cause of lymphadenitis, and conservative treatment is usually sufficient to help treat and cure the condition. Of late, however, more and more individuals have started presenting with gross lymphadenitis in various parts of the body, without evidence of any specific cause like tuberculosis, widespread infection, or cancer. Symptoms vary according to the location of affected lymph glands. Inflamed and enlarged glands in the chest may cause breathlessness, cough, or fluid collection in the layering of the lungs (known as pleural effusion). Similarly affected glands in the abdominal cavity may cause symptoms like abdominal pain, adhesions in the intestinal loops, and fluid collection in the ovaries or peritoneal cavity (known as ascites).
The commonest chronic cause of such swelling and inflammation of lymph glands is tuberculosis infection, so much so that even when all diagnostic tests come out negative, most health professionals still consider it worthwhile to give a therapeutic trial of anti-tuberculosis medications. Indeed, a large percentage of such affected individuals do benefit with this therapy; however, when even this treatment does not work, it becomes necessary to explore other causes for this condition.
Chronic inflammation due to stress, food allergies, exposure to toxins, hidden and obscure infections, and autoimmune processes within the body, is fast becoming a reality of modern times. Such inflammation, in addition to lymph glands and lymph ducts, may also affect blood vessels, skin, and various organs in the body. If multiple tissues and glands are involved, the presentation of clinical signs and symptoms will vary accordingly.
Coming back to non-specific inflammation of lymph glands, treatment needs to be given at various levels. Herbal medicines are given to reduce inflammation, and remove excess accumulated fluid. Herbs with known antiviral and antibacterial actions are given to treat infections. Immune-modulating herbs are used to treat a dysfunctional immune system. Specific diet instructions are given to address food allergies, and prevent inflammation. Adequate lifestyle recommendations are given to reduce stress and get sufficient, good quality sleep on a regular basis.
It is also necessary to normalize the digestive capacity and intestinal flora of affected individuals. Detoxification may also be necessary, especially for people who do not respond well to the treatment mentioned above. People with a strong autoimmune component may need more aggressive therapy for a longer period of time.
Most people having non-specific lymphadenitis respond very well to this line of treatment and report complete resolution of all symptoms. It is necessary for them to continue following a healthy diet and lifestyle so as to prevent a recurrence.