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Lymph Nodes
Sep 8, 2002

I was recently diagnosed with HIV and I figured I had the virus because my lymph nodes became enlarged. How can I make them go down? Can I have them removed ?

Response from Dr. Wohl

Hi-

Swollen lymph nodes are common during HIV infection. The virus itself concentrates in the immune cells that live in these nodes and prompts a reaction leading to their enlargement.

I usually tell my patients not to worry about nodes that remain swollen over time as it indicates the body is fighting the virus. However, new swelling of just one or several glands on one side of the body, especially if they are close to one another, should be examined by a clinician to exlude lymphoma which is rare but a concern. If, however, the nodes are swollen on both sides and have been without much change over time, I'd be less concerned.

Once people begin HIV therapy, the nodes usually shrink. I would not have them removed as the lymph nodes are performing an important function in fighting HIV and other infections. In addition, removal of lymph nodes can lead to build up of fluid in the places they drain which can be very nasty.

If your nodes are not painful or disfiguring, I would try to learn to, at least, appreciate them if not love them. - DW


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