ZocdocAnswersWhat causes coughing and swollen lymph nodes in children?

Question

What causes coughing and swollen lymph nodes in children?

My 8 year old son has had swollen lymph nodes for months, and doctors haven't really been able to help in this regard. He also has a dry cough that doesn't seem to go away, and sometimes runs a temperature for no reason. What causes all of these symptoms together?

Answer

The most likely cause of the swollen lymph nodes is simply that they are still not totally uninflamed from a previous episode of a cold or similar infection. Children your son's age often have persistently swollen lymph nodes after a cold that can persist for weeks to months. However, if the lymph nodes are growing in size or are markedly enlarged (a pediatrician could make this decision for you with a physical examination), it is always worth performing some basic blood tests to make sure there is not a blood cancer, such as leukemia, which would be the rare but very serious possibility. Also rarely, if there are night sweats or weight loss, in addition to cancer it might be necessary to rule out a more serious infection. The most common cause of a dry cough in a child your son's age would be allergies or asthma. Again, these conditions can be easily diagnosed by a physical examination in your pediatrician's office and they can be easily treated. Rare causes of chronic cough can include a serious infection or cancer. In summary the things that best explain all of the symptoms taken together would be a serious problem, such as an infection or a cancer. However, it is more likely that all of the symptoms are not related to each other. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth getting it all checked out by your pediatrician.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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