Hello Brittany. This is Dr. Love and I will be glad to assist you today.
If the lymph node enlargement is of short duration, then it is typically due to a reaction to germs entering the body. This can happen with or without infection, such as from germs getting under the skin without an infection, e.g., from minor cuts or bug bites. But the concern in this setting would be if there are any symptoms of infection in the areas that drain into those lymph nodes. For lymph nodes at the hip or groin, this would mean from the genitals or the legs. If you are having any genital or leg symptoms, then it would be appropriate to consider whether antibiotics are needed. The evaluation would vary depending upon which symptoms are present. However, if the lymph node enlargement has been present for a shorter period of time and there are no symptoms present, there is no reason for worry and the enlargement will usually resolve spontaneously.
If the lymph nodes have been present for a longer period of time, then there would be concern that there could be either a chronic infection or a growth in the lymph nodes, such as lymphoma. In this setting, symptoms may be present, such as fatigue or weight loss, but it would be appropriate to evaluate the lymph nodes, even if there are no other symptoms present. The evaluation would first involve a physical examination, but then may include an ultrasound or a biopsy of the lymph node.
Since lymph node enlargement in response to germs are so common, and it may take a month or two for such reactive lymph node enlargement to resolve, the usual period of time that is considered the threshold for lymph nodes that have been present for a longer period of time is 3 months.
If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.