Lymph nodes are a part of the lymphatic system, which is a component of the body’s immune system. The connection between diabetes and swollen lymph nodes is, in part, that diabetics are prone to infection and swollen lymph nodes are a sign of infection. There are several groups of lymph nodes within the body. The lymph nodes in the neck, under the chin, in the arm pits, and in the groin are the most likely to swell.

Lymph nodes are small clusters of cells that are surrounded by a capsule. Ducts go into them and out of them. The cells in lymph nodes produce antibodies which bind to foreign substances and macrophages which digest debris. They are basically the cleaner cells of the body (, 2012).

Hypothyroidism is connected with both diabetes and swollen lymph nodes, which serves as a connection as well. Aside from hypothyroidism, swollen lymph nodes are caused by:

  • Abscessed tooth
  • Throat Infection
  • Common cold
  • Childhood diseases
  • Virus infections
  • Fungal infections
  • MRSA
  • Cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Lupus
  • Syphilis
  • HIV/AIDs
  • Parasite Infection
  • Tuberculosis
  • Alcoholism

Can Diabetes Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes


Most often infections caused by a low immune system contribute to diabetes and swollen lymph nodes. Diabetes and swollen lymph nodes are often found together because certain anti-seizure medications (often taken by diabetics) have been known to cause lymph nodes to swell. Autoimmune disorders, such as type-1 diabetes, do sometimes cause swollen lymph nodes.Studies show, however, it could be saidthat lymph nodes may have much more to do with the cause of autoimmune, type-1, diabetes.

In one study, which can be found at, it was found that lymphocytes, which are lymph node cells, are associated with the “specific destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. In the study T-cells taken from pancreatic draining lymph nodes were cloned. There was a high degree of T-cell clonal expansion in the pancreatic lymph nodes of long-term diabetic patients, but not from non-diabetics. This resulted in the recognition of insulin-reactive T-cells from the site of auto-inflammatory drainage in long-term diabetics. The study concluded that it may be insulin which may be the target of the antigens that cause the autoimmune disease, type-1 diabetes.

JRDF-funded research has shown that the human immune system can be manipulated to prevent type-1 diabetes. The way this works is that B-cells present ‘antigens’ to T-cells which allow them to recognize and kill invaders. Research has shown that sometimes B-cells migrate to the pancreas and pancreatic lymph nodes and tell T-cells to kill the beta-cells to produce insulin. In mice, scientists were able to block a hormone response that controlled the survival of B-cells. By using this technique, B-cells were removed, and a special type of T cell increased and prevented an auto-immune attack on the pancreatic cells.