Can Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Can Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman

Key Takeaways

  1. Allergies can lead to swollen lymph nodes due to the immune system’s response to an irritant. 
  2. Allergies, including seasonal, food, and skin allergies, can cause watery eyes, itchy nose, sneezing fits, runny or stuffy nose, and rashes or hives.
  3. Pollen allergies typically do not cause swollen lymph nodes, but in rare cases, severe allergic reactions in adults and children can result in lymph node swelling. 
  4. Sinus infections and asthma may also cause swollen lymph nodes.

Overview

Anything that irritates your immune system can cause allergies. On the other hand, lymph nodes are small bean-shaped glands located in the neck, groin, or armpit regions. They filter out the substances that travel to lymphatic fluid containing white blood cells. These lymph nodes swell when the body is under attack.

Can Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Allergy can also cause swelling of lymph nodes. Many different types of allergies can, directly and indirectly, affect lymph nodes, such as food and pollen. If you are severely allergic to certain foods or allergens, like pollens or wheat, allergy can cause swelling of lymph nodes directly. However, the allergens can affect the ENT region (ear, nose, and throat) in other cases. Infection in those regions can indirectly affect lymph nodes and cause swelling.

The swelling indicates that something has irritated your immune system, and considering it a foreign agent, the immune system is fighting back. Thus, there are various allergic reactions to the immune system, like colds, sneezing fits, swelling, redness and rashes, itching, etc. 

These reactions go away with antihistamines or anti-allergy medicines and minimize exposure to allergens. In the case of lymph nodes, the swelling occurs on either or both sides of the neck, in the throat, under the jaws, or behind the ears. However, these symptoms arise in extreme allergic reaction cases. Another common cause is a secondary infection like sinus or upper respiratory tract infection can also trigger swelling of lymph nodes on the onset of allergy. 

Do You Get Swollen Lymph Nodes After an Allergy? Consult a Doctor Now for Treatment!

Common Allergy Symptoms that Affect Your Lymph Nodes

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, about 26% of the adults and 19% of the children population are affected by seasonal allergies in the US as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Apart from seasonal allergies, there are food and skin allergies as well. All these allergies can cause different types of symptoms as: 

  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing fits
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Rashes or hives

When there is an allergic reaction, lymph nodes swell as a body’s response to the allergen, and this causes the appearance of other symptoms like itchy nose, watery eyes, rashes, and sneezing. However, these symptoms go away with anti-allergic treatment and don’t cause severe harm to your body. 

Can Pollen Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Pollen allergies cannot cause swollen lymph nodes. But in rare cases, in adults with very severe allergic reactions and an in children swelling of lymph nodes can occur as a symptom of allergic reaction. 

Can Food Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Swollen lymph nodes are a symptom of a severe allergic reaction, whether seasonal or food alallergiesIf someone suffers from severe food allergies, swelling of lymph nodes can occur as a symptom. Still, it doesn’t happen in mild allergies. For example, some people have dairy, gluten, seafood, or nut allergy, and eating those foods can trigger their immune system and worsen the condition leading to swollen lymph nodes. 

Can a Sinus Infection Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Yes, sinusitis or sinus infection is a viral infection that can cause a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes causing cold and flu. In rare cases, it can also be a bacterial or fungal infection that causes sinus inflammation and infection. Also, if your preauricular lymph node is swollen on one side, it may indicate a different infection called strep throat. 

Can Asthma Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Asthma causes swollen lymph nodes as the allergy-causing particles travel into the lymph nodes, causing inflammation and breathing problems. Asthma is caused by an allergic reaction or upper respiratory tract infection. In either case, the condition can lead to swelling of lymph nodes.

Read More: Parotid Gland Swelling: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

How to Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes from Allergies?

Swollen lymph nodes can be problematic as they directly affect breathing, hearing, or speaking related to ENT (Ear, nose, throat). Therefore, diagnosing the cause to treat the swelling entirely is essential. Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications and other options can help in getting relief from the allergy symptoms:

Over the Counter Medicines

Some OTC medications can help ease the symptoms of the allergy and reduce swelling of the lymph nodes as follows: 

  • Allegra (fexofenadine) Adult Non-Drowsy Antihistamine- To reduce swelling 
  • Neproxen and Acetaminophen- For pain relief

Prescription Medications

Aside from OTC medicines, your doctor will suggest some prescription options upon consultation. For example: 

  • Decongestants- To reduce swelling and congestion
  • Corticosteroids- To reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Allergy Shots- To prevent allergic reactions caused by the allergen
Do You Get Swollen Lymph Nodes After an Allergy? Consult a Doctor Now for Treatment!

Warm Compress

To ease the swelled area, a warm compress is a fantastic technique. It can help in reducing pain and swelling by increasing the blood flow. 

Salt Water

Gargle with lukewarm salt water is an effective strategy to flush out toxins and reduce the inflammation and pain associated with swollen lymph nodes. 

Mild swelling can go away once the allergic reaction calms down with antihistamines, and there is nothing to worry about if the symptoms are not too extreme and swelling reduces with time. However, if the condition worsens with time and your body temperature rises, consult a doctor as fever suggests infection. For infection, a whole different course of antibacterial or antiviral medications will be prescribed to you by your provider. 

Rest

Resting is vital so your body can recover from the aftereffects of allergies and gain strength. Also, antihistamines and other medications need time to spread, react, and heal your body which can affect other functions. Therefore, it is best to sleep so your body can focus on healing. 

FAQs about Allergies Causing Swollen Lymph Nodes Answered by Your Doctors Online Team.

Can antihistamines help swollen lymph nodes?

Yes, swollen lymph nodes result from allergic reactions, which causes the release of histamine chemical that causes inflammation and swelling of lymph nodes. Therefore, antihistamines can help reduce swelling and pain by blocking histamine release.

Can stress cause swollen lymph nodes?

Stress also signals the body to turn on emergency mode and is associated with mental illness. Therefore, severe stress can also cause swelling of lymph nodes as a way body uses to tell something isn’t right. 

Can allergy shots cause swollen lymph nodes?

Allergy shots or vaccination can activate the lymphatic system to produce more white blood cells to fight the infection. In this process, it is possible that lymph node swelling occurs due to increased blood flow in the lymph nodes. However, the swelling will go away in a few weeks after vaccination. 

Can post-nasal drip cause swollen lymph nodes?

Yes, post-nasal drip occurs due to upper respiratory infections or hay fever, which can cause swollen lymph nodes in case of infections. Swelling indicates an underlying infection.

Can cat allergies cause swollen lymph nodes?

Swelling of lymph nodes only occurs in severe cases. However, cat allergies can cause mild symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Can acid reflux cause swollen lymph nodes?

No, heartburn or acid reflux cannot cause swollen lymph nodes. However, they can indicate an underlying health condition like a viral or bacterial infection or severe allergic reaction that coexists with acid reflux. In any case, consult a doctor for a better diagnosis. 

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

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  • Esterházy, Daria, et al. “Compartmentalized gut lymph node drainage dictates adaptive immune responses.” Nature 569.7754 (2019): 126-130.
  • Thevarajah, Sarmela, Tara L. Huston, and Rache M. Simmons. “A comparison of the adverse reactions associated with isosulfan blue versus methylene blue dye in sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer.” The American journal of surgery 189.2 (2005): 236-239.

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