The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, vessels and organs that work together to move lymph back into your your bloodstream. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system.
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph and pathogen-fighting white blood cells throughout the body, which is significant to the circulatory system.
The lymphatic system collects this excess fluid, now called lymph, from tissues in your body and moves it along until it’s ultimately returned to your bloodstream.
It is also responsible for the elimination of body of toxins, unwanted materials and other interstitial fluid from tissues.
Function of the lymphtic system
Your lymphatic system has many functions. Its key functions include:
- Maintains fluid levels in your body
- Absorbs fats from the digestive tract
- Protects your body against foreign invaders
- Transports and removes waste products and abnormal cells from the lymph
What are the parts of the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system consists of many parts. These include:
- Lymph: Lymph, also called lymphatic fluid, is a collection of the extra fluid that drains from cells and tissues (that is not reabsorbed into the capillaries) plus other substances.
- Lymph nodes: Lymph nodes are bean-shaped glands that monitor and cleanse the lymph as it filters through them. The nodes filter out the damaged cells and cancer cells.
- Lymphatic vessels: Lymphatic vessels are the network of capillaries (microvessels) and a large network of tubes located throughout your body that transport lymph away from tissues.
- Collecting ducts: Lymphatic vessels empty the lymph into the right lymphatic duct and left lymphatic duct (also called the thoracic duct).
- Spleen: This largest lymphatic organ is located on your left side under your ribs and above your stomach.
- Thymus: This organ is located in the upper chest beneath the breast bone.
- Tonsils and adenoid: These lymphoid organs trap pathogens from the food you eat and the air you breathe.
- Bone marrow: This is the soft, spongy tissue in the center of certain bones, such as the hip bone and breastbone.
- Peyer’s patches: These are small masses of lymphatic tissue in the mucous membrane that lines your small intestine.
- Appendix: Your appendix contains lymphoid tissue that can destroy bacteria before it breaches the intestine wall during absorption.
What conditions affect the lymphatic system?
Many conditions can affect the vessels, glands, and organs that make up the lymphtic system. Some happen during development before birth or during childhood.
Some common and less common diseases and disorders of the lymphatic system include:
Other disorders include:
- Intestinal lymphangiectasia
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Castleman disease
- Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome
- Mesenteric lymphadenitis
How can I keep my lymphatic system healthy?
To keep your lymphatic system strong and healthy, you should:
- Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals like those in pesticides or cleaning products. These chemicals can build up in your system and make it harder for your body to filter waste.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated so lymph can easily move throughout your body.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Your lymphatic system, part of your immune system, has many functions. They include protecting your body from illness-causing invaders, maintaining body fluid levels, absorbing digestive tract fats and removing cellular waste. Blockages, diseases or infections can affect your lymphatic system’s function.