Swollen lymph nodes can be unsettling, often prompting concerns about your overall health. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are part of the lymphatic system, which plays a crucial role in your body’s ability to fight off infections. Normally small and firm, they can be found throughout the body, including in the neck, under the arms, and in the groin area. In their typical state, they’re often not even noticeable. However, when they swell, you might start wondering whether immediate medical attention at an urgent care center is necessary.
While swollen lymph nodes are commonly a sign of a minor infection, they can occasionally indicate a more serious medical issue that requires prompt evaluation and treatment.
What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes serve as filters for the lymphatic system, trapping foreign particles like viruses and bacteria. When the body fights off an infection, these nodes can swell as part of the immune response. Common reasons for swollen lymph nodes include:
- Viral infections: Such as the common cold or flu.
- Bacterial infections: Like strep throat.
- Skin infections: Like cellulitis.
- Autoimmune diseases: Such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Cancer: Such as lymphoma or leukemia, though this is less common.
Red Flags: When Should You Seek Medical Attention?
Immediate medical evaluation is essential if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Swelling that lasts for more than two weeks.
- Severe pain.
- Swelling accompanied by fever, night sweats, or unintentional weight loss.
- Nodes that are hard, fixed in place, or growing rapidly.
- Swelling accompanied by difficulty breathing or swallowing.
What to Expect at Urgent Care
At Quality First Urgent Care, our doctors will provide a comprehensive evaluation. After taking a medical history, we will conduct a physical exam to assess the size, texture, and location of swollen lymph nodes. Additional testing such as blood tests, ultrasound, or a biopsy may be ordered to rule out more severe conditions. Rest assured, regardless of the cause of your swollen lymph nodes, Quality First will work with you to develop a treatment plan that may involve antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, or referral to a specialist if appropriate.
The Benefits of Choosing Urgent Care Over the ER
Choosing to go to urgent care for swollen lymph nodes over an emergency room has several advantages:
- It is cost-effective. Urgent care is generally less expensive than an ER visit.
- There are shorter wait times. Typically, you’ll be seen more quickly at an urgent care center. At Quality First, you can expect to be seen by a medical professional within 15-30 minutes of check-in.
- You receive focused care. Urgent care centers frequently provide targeted treatment for less severe conditions, reserving ER resources for life-threatening situations. Quality First’s team comprises 100% emergency medicine professionals who are adept at treating maladies of all kinds, from cold and flu to sprains and strains, infections, burns, rashes, minor injuries, and so much more. We conduct lab testing and also have an X-ray machine on site.
Don’t let swollen lymph nodes cause you unnecessary anxiety. Schedule an appointment with our team today for a thorough evaluation and prompt treatment.