The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Ask the Experts About

AIDS-Related CancersAIDS-Related Cancers
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

Nov 25, 2001

I read somewhere that lymph nodes are normally "pea sized" - this leads me to ask a couple of questions...

1. Is this the case?

2. If so, is this enlarged/normal size?

3. If this is the normal size, it is possible to feel a lymph node that is not swollen.

Many thanks for your help.

Response from Dr. Dezube

Lymph nodes are part of the body's immune system. They commonly enlarge when there is an infection. This is your body's attempt at fighting off the infection. You ask a good question which is "what is the size of a normal lymph node?". Unfortunately there is NO simple answer for the following reasons:

1) YOUTH- Young people, particular children, but also young adults develop an exuberant lymph node response to common viruses (e.g. upper respiratory illnesses) so even when these folks recover, the health care provider can often feel residual lymph nodes.

2) LOCATION- Some locations for lymph nodes are just sooooooo common that finding a pea-sized lymph node in that area, hardly makes me raise my eyebrows. The neck and the groin area are particularly common locations. The neck is a common site because of either upper respiratory infections or bad teeth; the groin is a common place particularly for those of us (including me) who walk around bare foot.

3) HIV INFECTION- Folks, who are HIV+, typically have for most of their illness enlarged lymph nodes. For them, enlarged lymph nodes are their "normal" state.

So what make a particular lymph node particularly worrisome??

If one lymph node is out or proportion to other lymph nodes, then that's worrisome.

If a lymph node is in an unuusal location, then that's worrisome.

If the patient has lymph nodes in the setting of systemic symptoms (fever, chills, night sweats, and weight loss), then that's worrisome.

In these and other worrisome cases, a lymph node biopsy would typically be the next step.

Is a stem cell transplant for me? Would I survive it? How has HIV trashed my body so quickly?
HRG214-- any news?

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint