What to look for
In honor of World Lymphoma Awareness Day, we want to do our part to spread as much information about the disease as possible. To that end, here are a list of the common and uncommon symptoms that may point to a possible case of lymphoma. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, visit a doctor as soon as possible. It is always better to be safe.
- Swollen Lymph Nodes - Swollen lymph nodes are a primary sign of lymphoma (although there could be other causes for them). These can often be found in neck, armpit, or groin area. They typically are painless so you should talk to your doctor about how to do self checkups to see if they are swollen or not.
- Abdominal Pain - Abdominal pain is another possible sign of lymphoma. This is not typical stomach cramps or belly aches, this is very serious pain over a number of days. There is also some swelling accompanied with the pain in most cases.
- Fevers and Chills - Fever and chills often happen when the body is trying to kill viral bacteria, and are often present in lymphoma patients. While these are two very common symptoms in a host of diseases like the flu or a cold, the biggest difference is that these fever and chills will last for long periods of time and will not be helped by typical medications.
- Uncontrollable Night Sweats - In some cases, lymphoma patients will wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. This will be a recurring event and it is often not thought to be a symptom of an illness. However, it very well could be a sign that the lymph nodes are swelling up, so you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Unexplained Weight Loss - While some might rejoice at losing weight without making any changes to diet or exercise habits, this is often a sign of a hidden illness. Many lymphoma patients end up experiencing unexpected weight loss.
- Fatigue - Many lymphoma patients complain about a lack of energy and fatigue. Once again this will be over a long period of time.
- Itching - Over one quarter of lymphoma patients have a certain type of itch called pruritis, which usually affects the lower extremities but can also spread to other parts of the body. This is no ordinary itch, and it will be highly resistant to powders, creams, and other medicines.
- Loss of Appetite - Lymphoma can cause changes in appetite, specifically a serious loss of appetite.
- Shortness of Breath - Continually being out of breath could hint towards having some form of lymphoma. This doesn't necessarily have to happen when you are exercising or doing an activity. This type of labored breath will be prominent at all times, even when you are staying still and trying to go to sleep.
- Lymphedema - Lymphedema is a more uncommon symptom of other diseases, and involves the swelling of either the arms or legs (sometimes both). This will make your clothes and bracelets feel too tight, and greatly reduce the flexibility in your wrists, hands, and ankles.
- Back/Bone Pain - Some lymphoma patients complain of serious back or bone pain. Back pain can be pretty common and is hard to attribute directly to lymphoma, but having a deep pain in your bones is much less common and could be a serious sign of lymphoma.
- Neuropathy - Neuropathy is a fancy way of saying numbness and weakness in the peripheral nerves. If you get a numb tingling sensation in your extremities this could be a sign of lymphoma.
- Blood in Stool or Vomit - Of course, if this happens you should see a doctor no matter what. In some cases, it could be an early warning sign of lymphoma.