The lymphatic system is a group of organs and tissues that are in charge of removing unwanted materials, waste, and toxins in your body. It is also responsible for transporting lymph, which is a fluid that has white blood cells. In addition, this system has lymphatic vessels that are connected to the lymph nodes. This is where the lymph is filtered. Other parts of this system are thymus, spleen, adenoids, and tonsils.
Continue reading this article to know more about the lymphatic system.
What happens in the lymphatic system?
Did you know that there are actually hundreds of lymph nodes in your body? There are! In fact, these are located deep in your body, particularly the heart and lungs. There are other lymph nodes that are found in the groin or under your arm as well.
The largest lymphatic organ is the spleen, found on the left side of your body. It is responsible for filtering the blood and controlling the number of red blood cells. Other functions of the spleen are storage of blood and protect the body from infection.
Once this organ finds a harmful virus, bacteria, or microorganism in your blood, it will immediately create lymphocytes. These are white blood cells that function as defends against invaders. To do that, lymphocytes release antibodies to kill the potentially harmful bacteria in your blood. These will also stop the infection from spreading in your body.
The good news is that you can live without a spleen. However, you will be prone to diseases and infections without it.
Another important organ in the lymphatic system is the thymus. It is placed in the chest above your heart. Also, it is a small organ that keeps immature lymphocytes until these became active. Once the lymphocytes are active, they will start destroying cancerous and infected cells.
Meanwhile, tonsils are huge clusters of lymphatic cells located at the pharynx. These serve as the first line of defense of the immune system. They check the bacteria and viruses first before these enter the body. When these are infected, there is a chance that you have a tonsillectomy which will give you throat infections.
You will also find the lymph in this system. The lymph is a colorless and clear fluid. It is actually the remainder of the plasma that left from the body’s cells. It slowly flows in one direction, which is to the neck.
What diseases can you get from the lymphatic system?
Just like in any of your body’s system, there are disorders and diseases in the lymphatic system as well. These are usually treated by dermatologists, vascular surgeons, immunologists, physiatrists, and oncologists. In case your condition is manual drainage in the system, you will be treated by lymphedema therapists.
The common ailments that you can get are:
- Lymphadenopathy – enlargement of the lymph nodes
- Lymphedema – lymph node blockage
When you notice that your groin, neck, or underarms are swelling, this could mean that the lymph fluid was able to detect a bacteria. The swelling happens when the bacteria and lymph nodes are fighting.
Lymphadenopathy, although already explained that it is the enlargement of your lymph nodes, may happen due to cancer, inflammation, and infection. In fact, these will come from the bacteria from strep throat, infected wounds, and other viral infections. Another possible cause for this condition is autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. During this time, the immune system is active which can cause the lymph nodes to enlarge.
Another condition is lymphoma, which is the cancer of your lymph nodes. The main cause of this disease is when the lymphocytes multiply and grow uncontrollably. There are actually various types of this condition such as Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Lymphedema is common for women who recently battled with breast cancer. This is because once the cancer is removed, the lymphatic flow goes to the heart that can lead to lymphedema or swelling.
If you have a multi-organ dysfunction, it means that you have a Castleman disease. It is a collection of inflammatory disorders that are responsible for lymph node enlargement. Although it is not cancer, the only way you can treat this condition is through chemotherapy.
The last condition is lymphomatosis, which is a condition that involves lesions and multiple cysts in the lymphatic vessels. Research shows that this disease may have emerged due to genetic mutation.
How to Treat Conditions in the Lymphatic System
Of course, each condition is treated differently. In the case of enlarged lymph nodes, the doctor will require you to undergo MRIs or CT scans for diagnostics. One way to know if the enlarged lymph nodes are already harmful to your body is when these are too large and can no longer fight off bacteria in your body.
In the worst cases, the doctor might suggest doing chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. Remember, the treatment will still depend on the condition that you have. All you need to do is go for a diagnostic first to know the ailment that you have. If the condition is still mild, you can cure it with antibiotics or antivirals. Some ailments is treatable with physical therapy, compression, or elevation.
In conclusion, the lymphatic system is an important network in your body. It is in charge of releasing lymph, which is the white blood cell that is responsible for killing bacteria and other harmful microorganisms in the body.
However, it is possible there are instances when an organ of the system gets damaged. This can then result in different conditions, including cancer. For example, you are required to remove your spleen. Although your body can work fine without it, you can expect that you will be prone to bacteria and other harmful stuff without it.
Worry not as there are already medications and other treatments to cure these. Just be sure that before you undergo any treatment, you have already consulted with your doctor and had your diagnostic. But most importantly, always take care of yourself to avoid having these diseases.