What Are the Different Lymphatic System Diseases?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2018
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There are several different types and causes of lymphatic system diseases. Some of these diseases, such as lymphadenopathy or lymphadenitis, are caused by bacterial infections, while splenomegaly is caused by a viral infection. A parasitic infection may lead to the development of a lymphatic disease known as filariasis. One of the most common lymphatic diseases is called lymphedema and is caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid within the body. Specific questions or concerns about any of the various lymphatic system diseases should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Lymphadenopathy is among the lymphatic diseases caused by bacteria. Tender or painful swollen lymph nodes typically occur in the area where the infection originated. For instance, an upper respiratory infection or tonsillitis may cause the infection to move to the lymph nodes in the neck, while a breast infection, known as mastitis, may lead to swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm. Prescription antibiotics are usually used to treat this condition.

Lymphadenitis is another of the lymphatic system diseases with a bacterial cause. Skin infections are the most common contributing factor for this type of infection, although other disease processes, such as tuberculosis, may also be the underlying cause. The symptoms and treatment options are similar to those of lymphadenopathy, although different types of antibiotics may need to be used, depending on the type of bacteria responsible for the infection.


Splenomegaly is one of the lymphatic system diseases caused by a viral infection. This disease causes the spleen to become enlarged and is usually diagnosed during a routine physical exam. Most people with this condition do not experience any symptoms unless the condition becomes severe, at which time severe pain may occur in the lower left region of the abdomen. This pain may indicate a rupture of the spleen and requires immediate removal of the organ.

Filiariasis is caused by a parasitic worm and is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Prescription medications can usually cure this illness, especially in the early stages. Life-threatening complications, such as a severe buildup of fluid known as a hydrocele, may require surgical intervention.

One of the most common lymphatic system diseases is known as lymphedema. An abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the tissues can lead to visible swelling of the arms, legs, or other areas of the body. Lymphedema can have a variety of causes, including genetic health conditions, infection, or traumatic injury. Lifestyle modification and the use of prescription medications are commonly used to treat this condition.


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