Can lupus make your lymph nodes swell?
Ah, lupus. The disease that keeps on giving. And by giving, I mean taking away everything you hold dear. Like your hair and self-esteem…oh, and let’s not forget the swelling of our beloved lymph nodes.
But can we really blame it all on lupus? Or is there some other sinister force at work? Let’s dig deep into the world of swollen lymph nodes and find out together.
What are lymph nodes anyway?
First things first, let’s get down to basics. What are these pesky little guys called lymph nodes anyways? Essentially, they’re like the TSA agents of our immune system – filtering out any nasties (like viruses or bacteria) before they make their way through our bodies.
Lymph nodes act as intermediary “stations” for this filtration process. They’re small bean-shaped structures throughout our bodies that contain millions of cells tasked with fighting off infections before they progress further into organs or other parts of the body via blood vessels and/or lymphatic vessels.
So in short: think tiny Marie Kondos for germs who only like sparking joy amongst themselves rather than attack us hapless humans.
How does having lupus affect my lymph nodes?
Now that we know what lymph nodes do, let’s explore how exactly this relates to one specific autoimmune freak fest: Lupus!
Unfortunately friends sigh, a common symptom experienced by many people living with systemic sclerosis has lots to do with those adorable little pebbles under your skin trying their best to keep you protected.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
The term ‘swollen’ usually makes me think food allergies but now I guess we’ll have something else starting from S too appearing in our imaginations when hearing ‘swollen’. Swelling occurs most frequently during periods where symptoms flare up in general. Your joints hurt more than usual? Lymph nodes swell. You want to cry because your hair has completely fallen out again? Lymph nodes swell. You’re feeling like maybe you lost 5% of your gross motor skills? Guess what? Yeah, the little boys are swelling again.
While there may be a different reason behind it, the lymph nodes invariably tend to swell up in reaction to Lupus activity (more on this later), and can often become painful or tender when touched as well.
It’s important to note that not all cases of lupus will experience swollen lymph nodes seeing she’s an equal opportunity problem-creator so don’t start pouting if your stones stay unchanged after diagnosis for they may be bad compared to normal sized ones but at least they aren’t trying their best Homestar Runner impressions by expanding unexpectedly.
So why do our beloved bean bags go into “warning mode”?
Ah, finally we dip into a tiny bit of scientific background here – brace yourselves…not really; did I mention how much I love them?
Anyhoo, lupus is an autoimmune disease where our immune system goes haywire and starts attacking healthy tissues in our bodies instead of fighting off germs. While you’d think targetting sickly looking guys rather than healthy organs would make sense from a protective standpoint, armies rarely turn on themselves unless fatally programmed which seems like one way too far fetched excuse/explanation for something never intended..
This abnormal response causes inflammation throughout the body notably seen on skin rashes hence people always asking with some astonishment: ”Can lupus cause rashes”?! Yes folks surprisingly enough not everything wrong with you is due to a night of wild partying. If you’ve got lupus, it probably isn’t because of your lifestyle but your body doing weird things.
Now, the culprits behind the swelling: lymph nodes themselves contain key immune system players like T-cells and macrophages that work to fight off infection. These cells are activated by signals from various “markers” called cytokines – think of them as a sort-of bat-signal for our immune system’s Batman and Robin impersonators- who then start up their attack against any foreign invaders infiltrating our bodies fighting in those places swarming with nasty germs like joints or kidneys etc.
This cytokine response can cause inflammation within these little stations bringing on the dreaded ‘swollen lymph node’ reaction we all love so much.
What other causes may there be?
Even though Lupus does play its part in making us feel really sore after poking at certain areas (we see nothing about avoiding said action here), there could still potentially be other reasons behind your swollen lymph nodes too…I know right, spoilers!
Some non-Lupus related triggers include:
Infections: With no surprises infections are one of biggest culprits in resulting swollen lymph nodes with bacteria posing bigger threat than viruses.
Cancers: While less common than infections or autoimmune diseases such as Lupus cancerous tumours could also put pressure on adjacent blood vessels and/or increase cytokine production leading to potentially swollen teensy round angels meeting under skin
Medication side effects: Certain medications may disrupt or enhance/modify normal cell signalling processes triggering an inflammatory response including some types commonly used treating typical Lupus symptoms.
Always fun when medication turns out glitching worse than computer code!
When should I call my doctor about it?
As idealistic romantic fantasies go feeling up small firm balls embedded anywhere mid chest down doesn’t seem ideal yet seeing our mind goes towards the worst case scenario of what if it’s terrible nightmares resulting from our feverish brows all too often? Here are some guidelines to help figure out when to give your doctor (rather than Google) a ring:
Your swollen lymph nodes aren’t going away after a few weeks
They feel tender or painful when touched
You’re experiencing other unusual symptoms or pain elsewhere in your body
Remember dear friends,it’s always better to air on caution even if it may take some, ahem,”sex appeal” and mystery out of things.
What can I do about my swollen lymph nodes?
Great question! Trust me, feeling one’s own glands that no sane person paid enough attention is not fun. Luckily, there are ways we can reduce discomfort in those particular areas.
Some easy fixins include:
Taking OTC medications: Common pain killers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which I am sure you know how to pronounce perfectly except maybe the latter (seriously who came up with that word?!) may be helpful at reducing swelling.
Applying topical treatments: Some topical creams containing mild steroids could also be used as directed by doctors for reducing inflammation based bruised looking items.
Fun fact- using strong perfumes and deodorants make them worse..but then again judging hygiene habits denotes insanity so…
I suggest just avoiding any contact while living under same roof with others!
While these remedies may provide temporary relief let us not ignore that ultimately addressing underlying causes i.e lupus flares will cause more permanent changes diminishing recurrent attacks. Working within our budget haha!