Shotty Lymph Nodes

Shotty lymph nodes is a term used to describe swollen or a specific kind of enlarged lymph nodes.Also known as lymph glands, the lymph nodes are a part of the immune system and help fight off invasion by varied pathogens like bacteria, viruses, etc. Swollen or shotty lymph nodes usually occur in areas such as the neck, the armpits, the chin, and the groin.

Lymph nodes may experience swelling or enlargement after viral or bacterial infections. Swelling of lymph nodes due to infections is called lymphadenitis. Swollen or shotty lymph nodes are rarely caused by cancer. Sometimes, the lymph nodes may experience permanent enlargement post infections. Such swollen lymph nodes are typically not sensitive or tender, feel rubbery, and measure less than 1 cm. They also do not feature any symptoms of an infection or malignancy. These swollen lymph nodes are generally referred to as shotty lymph nodes.

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Shotty or swollen lymph nodes can sometimes be alleviated with just warm compresses, or they may disappear on their own. Lymphadenitis is often treated as per the underlying cause.

Functions of lymph nodes

  • Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped or circular group of cells enclosed in a capsule made of connective tissue. These cells comprise of macrophages and lymphocytes. The latter manufactures protein matter that catch germs like bacteria, while the former breaks down such captured matter. Both of them destroy the pathogens and thus protect the body. They also filter the lymph fluid as it passes across the body.
  • Lymph nodes are found in clusters and each cluster helps drain a particular region of the body. Shotty lymph nodes are most likely to occur in some regions like the lymph nodes under the chin, and in the neck, groin, and armpits. Doctors use information about the location of the shotty lymph nodes to help diagnose the causative factors.

Symptoms of shotty lymph nodes

Shotty lymph nodes are typically an indication of some anomaly occurring in the body. In the initial stages when the lymph nodes experience swelling, and as per the causes, a patient may elicit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling of the lymph nodes up to the size of a kidney bean or a pea. It may even be bigger.
  • The lymph nodes cause pain and increased tenderness.
  • Nocturnal sweating.
  • Generalized inflammation of the lymph nodes all over the body. This is usually a sign of an immune system condition like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, or infections like mononucleosis or HIV.
  • Fever, sore throat, runny nose, and other symptoms indicating infection of the upper respiratory system.
  • A swollen limb; it can be a possible symptom of some obstruction in the lymphatic system arising due to swelling of lymph nodes present deep within the skin.
  • Fast-growing, rigid, and hard lymph nodes;it can be a symptom of possible malignancies or tumor.

Non-treatment of swollen or shotty lymph nodes caused due to infections can result in the below listed medical complications:

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  • Bacteremia or infection of the bloodstream: It is possible for a bacterial infection affecting any region of the body to sometimes travel to other areas of the body, thereby causing widespread infection of the bloodstream and sepsis. Infection of the bloodstream can lead to failure of organs and death of the patient. Treatment involves hospitalization and intravenous administration of antibiotics.
  • Development of abscess: Local buildup of pus arising due to an infection is referred to as an abscess. Such pus may consist of dead tissue, WBCs, fluids, bacteria, and other pathogens. Treatment involves drainage of the abscess and administration of antibiotics. An abscess can result in considerable harm if it affects an important organ.


The lymphatic system is made up of many vessels, organs, and lymph nodes present all over the body. A majority of lymph nodes can be found in the neck and head area. Most cases of shotty lymph nodes are detected in this region, as well as in the groin and armpits.

Infections are the most prevalent cause of swollen or shotty lymph nodes; especially viral infections like the common cold. Shotty lymph nodes can also be caused by other kinds of infections such as bacterial or parasitic infections, as well as other causes. Some of the common causes of swollen or shotty lymph nodes are listed below:

  • Common infections like measles, strep throat, abscessed or infected tooth, ear infections, wound or skin infections like erysipelas or cellulitis, mononucleosis, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Immune system conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, etc.
  • Uncommon infections such as tuberculosis, cat scratch fever, toxoplasmosis, and certain STDs like syphilis.
  • Cancers like leukemia and lymphoma as well as other cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes.
  • In rare instances, patients may experience swollen or shotty lymph nodes due to intake of certain medicines like malaria preventive drugs, anti-seizure meds like phenytoin, etc.

Treatment of shotty lymph nodes

Swollen or shotty lymph nodes arising due to viral infections typically fade away on their own after treatment of the infection. Viral conditions cannot be treated with antibiotics.

As per the cause, swollen or shotty lymph nodes can be treated in the below listed ways:

  • Infection: Most instances of shotty lymph nodes are caused by bacterial infections; it is treated with antibiotics. Shotty lymph nodes caused because of an underlying HIV infection is treated as per standard procedures.
  • Cancers: Shotty lymph nodes caused due to cancers resolve after successful treatment of the specific pre-existing cancer. Varied kinds of cancers are usually treated via surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy.
  • Immune system disorders: Shotty lymph nodes that are caused due to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or other immune system conditions resolve via treatment of those pre-existing disorders.

Pain and tenderness associated with swollen or shotty lymph nodes can be alleviated as follows:

  • Application of moist, wet compresses on the affected areas. Soak a washcloth in warm water, wring it, and then apply on the shotty lymph nodes to find relief. Repeat when the cloth loses its warmth.
  • Lots of rest is required so as to facilitate speedier recovery from shotty lymph nodes. Hence, take sufficient bed rest.
  • Non-prescription pain medications can also be taken to decrease the tenderness and pain.
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