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Ask Dr. Gott 6/13

Lumph Nodes 101

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Posted: June 12, 2007 3:54 p.m.
Updated: June 27, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I had a lump behind my ear for many years, but it never bothered me. One doctor said she could remove it at the office. But first she cut a small piece to have it examined. The results were inconclusive, so I went to an ENT doctor. He removed all of it. I was really worried when I went back to see him. He said, "Good news, no cancer." I asked him what it was. He said something about a lymph node that I really didn't understand, since I was overjoyed to know it wasn't malignant. Could you please write something about these lumps?
    DEAR READER: Lymph glands serve two major functions.
    First, they act as filters to prevent infections or malignancies from entering the body's circulatory system. This is the reason why, for example, a hand infection is usually associated with swollen lymph glands in the armpit.
    Once the infection has run its course or has been treated, the glands shrink to normal size.
    The second function is to help strengthen the immune system in fighting infection. This is why mononucleosis causes general lymph-gland enlargement.
    Swollen and/or tender lymph nodes can reflect a disease process, such as lymphoma and other cancers.
    I am delighted to learn that your biopsy was normal. Now you can relax.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 28-year-old female who is sick all the time. I mean, if it's not one thing it's another. Everything from stiff necks and leg cramps to stomachaches and headaches. Just recently, I had a seizure. I lost consciousness and was very scared by it.
    I have no insurance, so the ER sent me home. I finally got the money to go see my doctor and now am on an epileptic medication. If nothing has been figured out yet, why am I taking this?
    DEAR READER: New-onset seizures should be evaluated and monitored by a neurologist. Unless it is controlled by medication, this condition can be exceedingly dangerous. If you had a seizure while driving, for example, the results could be catastrophic.
    The neurologist will test you to determine the cause of your seizures and whether they could be related to hydrocephalus (increased pressure in parts of the brain), a brain tumor or some other neurological disorder.
    You may have to work out a payment plan with the medical professionals who will help you, but meanwhile, don't stop taking the antiseizure medication.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Epilepsy: The Falling Sickness."
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