Can Allergies Make Your Lymph Nodes Swell? Here's What Could Actually Be the Cause

Kori Williams - Author

Nov. 7 2023, Updated 1:31 p.m. ET

A woman sitting on a couch blowing her nose into a tissue.
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The Gist:

  • Some people experience swollen lymph nodes when they have allergies.
  • It's possible that having allergies causes the swelling, but other explanations exist.
  • Lymph nodes all over the body can swell.
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No matter what time of the year you get them, so many of us can agree that having allergies isn't great. The sneezing, stuffiness, rashes, and more are all uncomfortable at best. Sometimes, you also have to deal with another symptom: swollen lymph nodes.

Although it's annoying, can allergies actually cause swollen lymph nodes or is something else to blame? It turns out that there is more to this story. Here's what's actually going on in your body.

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Can allergies cause swollen lymph nodes?

According to Penn Medicine Becker ENT and Allergy, allergies can sometimes cause swollen lymph nodes, although uncommon. General inflammation can be more likely. When your body is reacting to something it's allergic to, several chemicals, including one called histamine, are released, which causes the swelling.

Although seasonal and food allergies can cause swollen lymph nodes, this can also be brought on by allergic asthma. Asthma is a condition where the airways are restricted as an allergen is being breathed in, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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A woman sneezing into a tissue outdoors.
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What's more likely to cause swollen lymph nodes is a secondary infection caused by a weaker immune system. Allergies can harm the body's defenses. So, while it may seem like your lymph nodes are enlarged because of allergies, the real answer could be that an allergen disrupted your body's normal functioning and made you more susceptible to getting sick.

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Additionally, lymph nodes can swell for other kinds of medical reasons. The Mayo Clinic says the most common causes are infections, especially infectious mononucleosis, better known as mono, but they can also rarely be the result of cancer. And WebMD points out that some medications can also cause this. If you're concerned about what's going on, reach out to your doctor. The swelling often goes down independently and is nothing to worry about.

A man blowing his nose into a tissue outdoors.
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Can allergies cause only certain lymph nodes to swell?

There's no clear information on whether allergies only cause certain lymph nodes to swell. However, the Mayo Clinic states that the most likely nodes to swell are located in your head (such as under your jaw), neck, under your arms, and groin area.

If you are concerned about some swelling lymph nodes, the Mayo Clinic says there are some symptoms to look out for:

  • A lymph node begins to swell for seemingly no reason
  • It feels hard, rubbery, or unmoving
  • It continues to get larger over time
  • It lasts for two or more weeks

If you feel like something is seriously wrong, please seek medical attention, whether that be going to your regular doctor or seeking emergency services.

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