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Mesenteric lymphadenitis

Infant and Children, Immune | December 27, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

Children, Immune

Mesenteric lymphadenitis

Mesenteric lymphadenitis means swollen lymph glands in the abdomen. Mesenteric (abdomen), adenitis (inflamed lymph). It can be a painful condition but not necessarily serious and occurs mainly in children under the age of 16. Mesenteric lymphadenitis can be acute or chronic, depending on the cause. It is is often mistaken for an appendicitis.

What it is Mesenteric lymphadenitis

Mesenteric lymphadenitis refers to non-specific inflammation of lymph node present in a cluster of 3 or more and measuring 5mm or greater in the lower mesentery (abdomen). 

The mesentery is a fold of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), which attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen and other organs to the posterior (back) wall of the abdomen.

Why does it occur

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is inflammation of the lymph nodes. 

First - a bit about lymph

What it is┬áMesenteric lymphadenitisLymph nodes receive certain cells and cellular debris from the circulatory system - for example from the immune response to local infection, cancer cells and inflammatory responses.

Before entering the central circulatory system, lymph is filtered through lymph nodes which collect cellular material foreign particles and cancer cells.

The lymphatic system is like the venous circulatory system, consisting of vessels which transport fluid throughout the body. The fluid is transported through a network of lymph vessels which eventually drain into the central venous system via the thoracic duct or the right lymphatic duct. Lymph movement is obtained by muscular contraction.

Lymph nodes catch and destroy microscopic invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

Lymph nodes are important in the functioning of the immune system as they contain lymphocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. These are the important immune-response cells ready to respond to any antigens found in the lymph. Antigens are toxins or foreign substances which induce an immune response in the body.

Lymph nodes are located throughout the body, just below the skin, with collections gathered in the neck, axillae and groin. The abdominal and thoracic cavity contain deeper located lymph nodes.

Causes of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

Disorders of the lymph system occur due to infection, obstruction or cancer. The causes of mesenteric lymphadenitis are often not known, but commonly infection or inflammations are to blame.


Infections causing mesenteric lymphadenitis can be systemic (throughout the body) or from a primary source and may be from a bacteria, virus or parasitic source. The most common cause of infection are:

Causes of Mesenteric LymphadenitisGastroenteritis – examples include:

  • bacterial such as – salmonella, staphylococcus, streptococcus or yersinia enterocolitica (the most common cause in children)
  • viral such as - norovirus or rotavirus

Mesenteric lymphadenitis can resemble an appendicitis or inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis).

Other infections which can cause the disorder are infections related to HIV, tuberculosis and acute terminal ileitis – an inflammatory condition affecting the small intestine where it attaches to the large intestine, and usually due to bacterial infection.


Infection, cancer or obstruction can all result in inflammation. 

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms are dependant on cause of inflammation.

  • Raised white blood cells -– an indicator the body is fighting an infection
  • High fever
  • Abdominal tenderness – usually felt in the centre or lower right side of abdomen
  • Not feeling well
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosing Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

Any severe or sudden abdominal pain should be seen by a doctor immediately, especially if combined with the above symptoms.

The doctor will determine the disorder by the symptoms presented and medical investigation, such as blood test, urine test, ultra sound or CT scan to rule out other possible causes.


Mesenteric lymphadenitis will often resolve on its own. Antibiotics may be prescribed for infection.

Naturopathic support

Natural therapies offer immune, inflammatory and digestive health support. Other areas which may help with this disorder include good sleep hygiene and stress reducing protocols. Poor sleep and stress can both lower the immune system. Poor digestive health can reduce immunity and be the cause of inflammation.


Zinc is essential for the function of the immune system and also offers anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. 

Zinc is essemtial for a healthy immune system 

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea). This well-known herb species is valuable in its effective immunomodulatory effect on the entire immune system.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a therapeutic in traditional Chinese medicine which offers immune enhancing properties.

Calendula (calendula officinalis) this herb offers anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antiviral potential and is considered one the best herbs for the lymphatic system.

Cleavers (Galium aparine) a lymphatic alterative – meaning it has a multiple of actions of which include blood purification, toxin elimination and restoration to health.


Herbal medicine such as resveratrol and curcumin have proven effective treatments for digestive inflammatory conditions (such as hepatitis and colitis), both acute and chronic.

Herbs help nourish the body and improve health

Digestive health

Address any possible food allergies or intolerances by identifying and removing from diet. Reduce and remove any non-nutritional foods and additives such as artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.  Increase fibre in the diet and supplement with good quality probiotics.
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Probiotics have been found to affect every section of the gut, including the luminal microbiome, the mucus barrier and the mesenteric lymph nodes that communicate with the systemic immune system.
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The importance of Sleep

The importance of SleepSleep is associated with a reduced infection risk and can improve infection outcome and adversely poor sleep (e.g., short sleep duration, sleep disturbance) is associated with chronic, systemic low-grade inflammation and various diseases that have an inflammatory component.
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Emotional stress

It is important to reduce stressors in life if immunity is low. Stress can have a negative action on the immune system.

Following some stress busting protocols can help restore health.
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Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

The New Era of the Lymphatic System: No Longer Secondary to the Blood Vascular System

CT Diagnosis of Primary Versus Secondary Causes, Incidence, and Clinical Significance in Paediatric and Adult Patients

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Resveratrol, Curcumin and Simvastatin in Acute Small Intestinal Inflammation

Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species

Characterization of the Physiological Response following In Vivo Administration of Astragalus membranaceus

A review on phytochemistry and ethnopharmacological aspects of genus Calendula

The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease

Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function

Probiotics in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders

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