What Are Lymph Nodes And What Does It Feel Like When They're Swollen?

If you point to a specific part of your body, you're probably not far from one of your lymph nodes. According to MedicalNewsToday, our body has hundreds of them. However, the ones that you will most likely notice when they are swollen are located in the neck, groin, armpit, and behind the ears. The small, bean-shaped glands are an essential part of the body's immune system and are excellent at sending out warning signs, indicating a harmful body intruder. 

Our lymph nodes are a part of our lymphatic system. Their main role is to wash out foreign toxins and balance our fluid levels. According to Byrdie, a well-functioning lymphatic system is what governs our skin's glow and helps maintain a clear complexion. If you suddenly feel or even notice that your lymph nodes are swollen, it may send off some alarm bells in your mind. Here is what you should know about your lymph nodes and their function.

Your lymph nodes are there to catch the bad guys

Swollen lymph nodes are actually a good sign, as it most likely means your body is trying to fight off a harmful intruder. "They're catching the bad guys — our immune system is chewing them up," Dr. Sterling Ransone, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Health.

But what are the "bad guys?" It is up to us, along with medical professionals, to find out by looking into other symptoms that often appear at the same time as the swelling. Health notes that swollen lymph nodes can also occur when a person has been infected with bacteria or viruses that cause the common flu and cold, skin wounds, strep throat, and sinus infections, among other conditions.

If you've noticed that your lymph nodes are swollen, it likely means your body is actively at work fighting off harmful bacteria. However, that doesn't mean should ignore the swelling. MedicalNewsToday recommends calling your doctor if your lymph nodes are persistently swollen or you notice that your overall health has started to decline.