top of page

Can allergies cause swollen lymph nodes? Here’s the answer!

Does your kiddo ever have swollen lymph nodes? Do you wonder if food allergies or seasonal allergies or pet allergies are to blame? If so, you're not alone. This is a common question that many parents consider, especially during the spring when allergies can be at their worst. In this post, we will answer that question and provide some information about what can cause swollen glands. Keep reading to learn more!

Doctors can examine the lymph nodes in your child's neck by gently feeling her neck.

Doctors can examine the lymph nodes in your child's neck by gently feeling her neck.

What is a lymph node?

Before we can answer the question, “Can allergies cause swollen lymph nodes?”, it's important to understand what a lymph node is. Lymph nodes, also called “glands,” are small, round structures that are found throughout the body. They are like the police stations of immune cells: immune cells monitor the lymph fluid for signs trouble – typically infection. Those cells then go and attack as needed to protect the body.

Here's an overview of the lymphatic system!

What causes swollen lymph nodes?

There are a number of things that can cause swollen lymph nodes. The most common cause is an infection, such as a viral infection. When immune cells recognize infection, they become activated to fight that infection. That activation can cause the lymph nodes to enlarge and become tender. As the immune system fights off the infection, the lymph nodes go back to normal size. There are some less common causes of lymph node enlargement, so it's always important to talk with your kiddo's doctor. Your doctor likely will examine your child and ask questions about how long they've been enlarged, then go from there.

Do allergies cause lymph nodes to swell?

Allergies don't cause swollen lymph nodes. This can be an important symptom to clarify because swollen glands are often associated with infection, such as a upper respiratory virus. Seasonal allergies, pet allergies, and dust allergies can cause runny nose, congestion, and sneezing, just like infections. That said, these allergies don't cause swollen lymph nodes or fever, but infections can cause those symptoms.

Food allergies also do not cause swollen lymph nodes. Lymph nodes do not enlarge in people with food allergies who are avoiding their allergens, and swollen lymph nodes are not a sign of an allergic reaction. Sometimes, people are concerned that milk increases mucus production, which then families may attribute to causing a cold. Milk actually has not been shown to cause increased mucus production and is not associated with upper respiratory infections, so it also is not a cause of lymph node swelling.

Can allergies cause swollen lymph nodes?

Cat dander allergies can cause sneezing and congestion but not swollen lymph nodes.

“What should I do if my child has swollen lymph nodes?”

If your child has swollen lymph nodes, it's important to talk with their healthcare provider. He or she can determine the cause and provide guidance on next steps, which may be monitoring. In most cases, swollen lymph nodes are not cause for concern and will go away on their own as the body fights off infection. Yay, immune system taking care of your kiddo!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading this post “Can allergies cause swollen lymph nodes? Seasonal allergy symptoms explained.” Do you have any questions about allergies – food or otherwise!? Reach out to me! And be sure to check out my other blog posts and podcast episodes about food allergies or food allergy skin or blood testing. Thanks for reading! – Dr. Hoyt

P.S. Food allergy testing can be super confusing, so I've created this awesome ebook to clarify the facts from the fiction! Get your copy today!

Also… Are you in need of an allergist in your area? Check out these allergist finder tools: AAAAI Allergist Finder: ACAAI Allergist Finder:

Do you have food allergy questions? Have them answered by Dr. Alice Hoyt, Pam, and guests on the podcast!

Submit your questions HERE!

A note from Dr. Hoyt

I have talked about a non-profit…

Pam and I volunteer with the non-profit The Teal Schoolhouse. Its primary program is Code Ana. Code Ana equips schools for medical emergencies like anaphylaxis.

Code Ana’s Online Epinephrine Training Program helps support that goal. Through this program, you will educate yourself while you support this important mission!

A medical emergency response plan is important for everyone at any school. Code Ana's program Med-E Ready is a comprehensive approach to school-focused medical preparedness. This program guides schools through the process of creating a medical emergency response plan. A response team is also developed! This is one of the most important components of a school's food allergy policy!

Does your kiddo’s school have Code Ana?

You've just read Dr. Hoyt's post “Can allergies cause swollen lymph nodes? Seasonal allergy symptoms explained.” Remember, she's an allergist, but she isn't your allergist, so talk with your allergist about what you've just learned!


Food Allergy Resource Bulletin.png

Stay up-to-date on all things food allergy.

Sign up for Dr. Hoyt's Food Allergy Resource Bulletin.

bottom of page