Your lymphatic system is a collection of fine tubes and ducts in the body. It also includes nodes in the armpits, the area immediately above the clavicle, beneath the jaw, on each side of the groin and neck.
The system’s job is to remove toxics from the body, fight infection, and destroy abnormal or old cells.
Why do lymph nodes sometimes become swollen?
Lymph nodes can become irritated. You may notice that one or more nodes become red, swollen, and painful to touch. Lymphatic swelling can have many causes.
These include viruses, infections, and inflammation. For example, people with glandular fever often report painful swelling.
Can swollen lymph nodes be a sign of cancer?
The lymphatic system is responsible for removing abnormal cells, including cancer cells, from the body. It does this by transporting a fluid called lymph throughout the body.
Lymph is rich in white blood cells, which play a key role in defending the body from disease.
In some instances, swollen lymph nodes can be a symptom of cancer.
If swelling is accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, muscle soreness, bloating, excessive sweating, coughs, and a general feeling of malaise, it’s important to see a doctor if you don’t feel better within a couple of weeks.
However, most of the time, these symptoms suggest that you have lymphatic congestion, a common problem that you can treat yourself.
So, if your doctor has ruled out serious conditions, try the following to keep the lymphatic system working well and drain congested nodes:
1. Drink plenty of water
Sip on water throughout the day.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, because they put your body under additional stress.
2. Take regular exercise
Moving around stimulates your metabolism, and forces your lymphatic system to work harder. Exercise increases blood flow and muscle contractions.
This promotes lymph drainage, easing congestion.
3. Try essential oils
Dilute a few drops of peppermint oil, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Rub the mixture on and around swollen nodes.
It acts as an antibacterial agent and also improves circulation, thus promoting lymphatic drainage.
4. Schedule regular massages
Massage stimulates the flow of lymph. You can massage the site yourself.
Five to ten minutes should be enough to alleviate discomfort. If you can afford it, book an appointment with a professional.
Alongside regular massage treatments, you could also try lymphatic drainage massage. This is a specialist full-body technique that is sometimes given to lymphedema patients.
You can ask your health practitioner or massage therapist for a referral to someone qualified in this approach.
5. Apply castor oil
Soak a clean washcloth in castor oil, wring out the excess fluid, and place it over a congested lymph node. The skin will absorb the oil.
To speed up the process, you can place a warm compress on top of the cloth. Castor oil promotes metabolic function, and improve lymph flow.
6. Lose weight if you are obese
Research suggests that excess bodyweight impairs circulation of lymph and normal lymphatic drainage, and can even alter the structure of lymph nodes.
Losing just a modest amount of weight could make a significant difference.
7. Overhaul your diet
Even if you aren’t overweight, the food you eat still affects your lymphatic system.
Slow digestion impedes proper lymph function, so you need to maintain an appropriate balance of gut bacteria and eat foods that place minimal stress on your digestive system.
Be sure to eat plenty of foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, foods containing vitamins D and A, and leafy greens. Eat probiotic yogurt or take supplements to support a healthy gut environment.
Raw fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and enzymes that reduce the number of free radicals in the body, so should be eaten in copious quantities.
8. Learn how to cope with stress
Stress has both psychological and physiological effects.
The hormones released by the body under stress, including cortisol and excess adrenaline, can cause widespread inflammation. Inflammation leads to cellular breakdown and metabolic waste, which puts extra strain on the lymphatic system.
Exercise is an effective way to relieve stress.
You could also try meditation, mindfulness techniques, or picking up a new hobby that offers you a healthy distraction.
Make your lymphatic system a priority
People often take their lymphatic systems for granted until they suffer congestion.
Leading a healthy lifestyle and monitoring changes in your body will help you spot problems early and take action to safeguard your health.
Check out this video to learn more: