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Hodgkin’s disease – causes, side effects and treatments at

Friday, April 20, 2018 by

Hodgkin’s disease (HD) is a type of lymphoma. HD is also called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A lymphoma is a blood cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, which helps the immune system eliminate waste from the body and fight infections.

HD starts in the white blood cells that help protect you from germs and infections. In patients with HD these white blood cells, or lymphocytes, grow abnormally and they spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the disease progresses, your body has a harder time fighting off infections.

There are two types of Hodgkin’s disease:

  1. Classic Hodgkin’s disease (CHL) – CHL makes up 95 percent of all cases of Hodgkin’s disease in developed countries.
  2. Nodular lymphocytic predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NLPHL) – Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) accounts for at least five percent of cases.

While experts have yet to determine the main cause of HD, the disease has been linked to DNA mutations/changes and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis.

Known side effects of Hodgkin’s disease

The side effects of Hodgkin’s disease usually include:

  • Chest pain, persistent cough, and trouble breathing
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Itchy skin
  • Night sweats
  • Pain in the lymph nodes after consuming alcohol
  • The swelling of the lymph nodes – The most common symptom of HD, swollen lymph nodes causes the formation of a lump under the skin. The lump usually isn’t painful, and it may form in one or more of the following areas: the side of the neck, in the armpit, or around the groin.
  • Unintended weight loss

Risk factors for Hodgkin’s disease may include:

  • Age – While people can be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at any age, it is most common in early adulthood (e.g., someone in their 20’s) and in late adulthood (older than 55).
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection/mononucleosis – People who have had infectious mononucleosis (mono), an infection caused by EBV, have a higher chance of developing HD.
  • Gender – HD is more common in males than in females.
  • Family history – The siblings of younger patients with this disease have a higher chance of developing Hodgkin’s disease. The risk is very high for an identical twin of a person with HD. However, a family link is uncommon, and the majority of people with the disease do not have a family history of it.
  • HIV infection – The risk of HD is more pronounced in patients infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Body systems harmed by Hodgkin’s disease

Hodgkin’s disease may cause the following complications:

  • A weakened immune system – This is a common complication of HD, and it can be more severe as a patient is being treated. An individual with a weak immune system is more susceptible to infections. Additionally, there is an increased risk of developing serious complications from infections. Symptoms of an infection may include aching muscles, diarrhea, headache, a high temperature/fever, or tiredness.
  • Infertility – Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for HD may cause infertility. While this is often temporary, it can be permanent.
  • Second cancers – Patients who have had HD have a higher chance of developing lymphoma, leukemia, or other cancers in the future. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy increase this risk.
  • Other health problems – The risk of developing other health conditions in the future, like cardiovascular disease and lung disease, is also greater in individuals who have had HD.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent Hodgkin’s disease

The following foods or nutrients can help prevent Hodgkin’s disease:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that can protect the immune system from free-radical damage due to diseases like HD. Eat fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, grapefruit, kale, leafy green vegetables, mustard greens, oranges, raspberries, spinach, strawberries, and watermelon.
  • Healthy fats – Healthy fats, like those found in fish and nuts, can benefit patients with HD. Sources include almonds, flaxseed, halibut, herring, lake trout, macadamia nuts, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna, and walnuts.
  • Water – Patients with HD need to stay hydrated, and they must drink at least six glasses of water daily. Water flushes toxins from the body. It also acts as a solvent, and water combines, transports, and chemically breaks down carbohydrates, fats, protein, salts, and other substances. Breaking down these substances helps normalize the blood-manufacturing process. Always drink filtered water that is free of contaminants.
  • Whole grains – Whole grains are full of minerals, vitamins, and other antioxidants that can boost the immune system. Sources include barley, bulgur, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, spelt, steel-cut oatmeal, and wild rice

Treatments, management plans for Hodgkin’s disease

Treatment for HD usually depends on the stage of the disease, and main treatment options are chemotherapy and radiation.

  • Chemotherapy – Patients who undergo chemotherapy are prescribed medications that can kill cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy – Radiation uses high-energy beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells. In most cases, radiation therapy alone can treat early stage NLPHL. But when a patient has HD in advanced stages, targeted therapeutic drugs may be added to their chemotherapy regimen.
  • Stem cell transplant – This treatment involves the infusion of healthy cells, or stem cells, into a patient’s body to replace the cancerous cells in their bone marrow.

Where to learn more


Hodgkin’s disease (HD) is a type of lymphoma. HD is also known as Hodgkin disease, Hodgkin lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Side effects of Hodgkin’s disease usually include chest pain, persistent cough, and trouble breathing; enlarged spleen; fatigue; and fever.

Hodgkin’s disease may cause complications like a weakened immune system, infertility, and second cancers.

Treatment for HD usually depends on the stage of the disease, and main treatment options are chemotherapy and radiation.

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