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How to check for swollen nodes/glands
Apr 14, 2002

How do I perform a self examination to check for any swollen glands?

Response from Dr. Dezube

This is quite a reasonable question particularly since I write so much about lymph nodes. To examine a lymph node, take the tips/pads of your middle three fingers and move them slowly in a circle over the area. First check for armpit nodes by pressing firmly under your arm until you can feel the ribs. Next, check for neck nodes by pressing your fingers in front of and behind your ears, in the groove at the base of the skull, along your jawbone and chin, and along the neck muscles from the ear to the collarbone. Lastly check for groin nodes by pressing your fingers in the fold between your hipbone and your groin. Remember to do both sides of your body. Also remember that it is not uncommon to find lymph nodes! Lymph nodes often represent nothing more than the body's attempt to fight off infection. Lymph nodes are more worrisome if they persist (e.g. for more than a month), if they continue to grow, if one lymph node is way out of proportion to other lymph nodes, or if they occur in the setting of a systemic illness (fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss). At some point, virtually every human being will detect lymph nodes on him/herself, if he/she checks him/herself carefully. Patients with HIV-infection often have enlarged lymph nodes in the very areas which I outlined above (armpits, neck, groin).

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