Lymph glands, or lymph nodes, normally have a pea size, according to WebMD. These lumps of tissue consist of white blood cells and exist in various parts of the body.
Lymph glands help prevent infections by fighting bacteria, viruses and other threats, explains WebMD. When controlling an infection or disease, they tend to increase in size and turn into swollen glands that are typically prominent in the neck, below the chin, in the armpits or in the groin.
Swollen glands usually occur due a local infection, such as the common cold, tonsillitis, laryngitis and ear infection, says WebMD. Local infections affect a specific body part and do not spread to other areas. The affected area’s glands often become painful or tender. Viral infections, such as glandular fever and rubella, also cause swollen glands. They go into the bloodstream and affect the entire body. An individual who notices persistent swollen glands in the neck and suffers sore throat and high temperature likely has a glandular fever. Rare causes of swollen glands include cancer and immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment of local infections involves drinking lots of fluids, resting and taking over-the-counter medicines, states WebMD. Anyone who feels severely sick, has a fever and experiences chills may be suffering from blood poisoning due to a bacterial infection. In such case, immediate medical care is necessary.