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What do swollen lymph nodes after a covid-19 vaccine indicate?

A new study shows a connection between previous covid infection and experiencing more moderate side effects, like swollen lymph nodes, after vaccination.

New study shows a connection between previous covid infection and experiencing more moderate side effects, like swollen lymph nodes, after vaccination.

As millions around the world get vaccinated, some may come to find out that the side effects they experience could indicate that they had contracted the virus.

MedRxiv, a consortium made up Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, BJM, and Yale University, released preliminary findings from a study this week that showed people who had experienced covid-19, were more likely to report swollen lymph nodes and other side effects after vaccination.

The study will undergo peer review and as more scientists review the data, more insights may be gained into this possible connection.

What does it mean if your lymph nodes are swollen?

Lymph nodes form part of a body’s immune system and help to filter liquids used to fight infection. Humans have hundreds of these nodes scattered around the body. When the immune response kicks in, the nodes swell to limit the passage of the viruses and bacteria throughout the rest of the body.

After some patients received a covid-19 vaccine, they reported that their lymph nodes were swollen and sore. While uncomfortable, this side effect is a sign that the body’s immune response was engaged. The researchers found that there was a statistically significant difference in the rate that those who had been infected with covid-19 reported experiencing more moderate or severe side effects after vaccination.

Breaking down the study

The study was conducted with healthcare workers in the United Kingdom. A total of 974 individuals were included in the study, of which 265 had reported a previous covid-19 infection.

Fifty-six percent of those who had reported covid-19 infection relayed to the research team they experienced side effects including, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and more. Only forty-six percent of the non-covid group reported feeling these symptoms.

As the study moves into peer review, scientists will be able to way in on whether the findings are a coincidence or if they help to explain the reasons why some patients experience more severe side effects after covid vaccination than others.

Side effects and second dose vaccine hesitancy

The study does also illustrates the percentage of patients who report side effects. While feeling side effects may increase reluctance in getting a second dose, the CDC has released guidance saying that the symptoms should only last a few days. On the other hand, a severe case of covid-19 can lead to hospitalization, long-term health impacts such as organ damage or memory loss, and even death.

If side effects persist beyond a few days, the CDC recommends you call your primary health care provider. Depending on the state of your health, your doctor may advise you to take over-the-counter medications to counteract the symptoms


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