Table of contents:
- Main functions of the lymphatic system
- Anatomy of the lymphatic system
- Main diseases of the lymphatic system
- When to go to the doctor
The lymphatic system is a set of organs, tissues, vessels and channels that are distributed throughout the body to help filter and remove excess fluids and impurities from the body.
In addition, the lymphatic system also contributes to the formation of the body's defense cells, such as lymphocytes, which are responsible for defending and fighting microorganisms that can cause diseases.
Avoiding contact with chemicals such as pesticides or cleaning products, drinking plenty of water, and maintaining a he althy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular physical activity, are important measures that help maintain the system he althy lymphatic system and prevent disease.
Main functions of the lymphatic system
The main function of the lymphatic system is to collect and filter excess fluid from the body through the lymph and then transfer it to the blood. Other functions of the lymphatic system include:
- Absorb fat from the intestine and transport it to the blood, contributing to the production of lymphocytes and development of immunity;
- Transport and remove waste and “defective” cells from the body.
The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system, producing and releasing lymphocytes and other defense cells that fight bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, helping to prevent various types of diseases such as cancer, flu and cold.
Anatomy of the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is composed of cells, vessels, tissues and organs, which perform various functions. Major components of this system include:
It is a transparent liquid that is formed by water, nutrients and substances produced by the cells, such as hormones and enzymes, and that travels through the lymphatic circulation.
Function: Lymph helps to drain excess water and waste from the body, as well as transporting white blood cells throughout the body, helping to fight infections.
2. Lymphatic vessels
Capillaries are small, thin lymphatic vessels that collect lymph, and as they make their way to the heart, they increase in size and form lymph vessels.
Function: Capillaries and lymph vessels collect and carry lymph to be filtered in the lymph nodes. At the end of the course and filtration, the lymphatic vessels release the lymph, already filtered, into the thoracic ducts, a structure that goes from the abdomen to the neck.
3. Lymphatic ducts
They are large lymphatic channels, known as the left lymphatic duct and right lymphatic duct, where the lymphatic vessels empty the lymph, already filtered. These ducts connect to the heart, where the lymph passes before returning to the bloodstream.
Function: The thoracic duct collects and carries most of the body's lymph into the blood, helping to maintain normal blood volume and blood pressure, and prevent the accumulation of fluid, known as edema.
4. Lymphatic organs
The lymphatic organs are organs, distributed along the path of the lymphatic vessels, which are stimulated whenever there is an infection or inflammation. The main lymphatic organs are:
- Bone marrow: is a soft, spongy tissue located inside long bones, such as the hip and sternum, which has the function of producing various blood cells, including blood cells red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets;
- Tymus: is a gland located in the upper part of the chest, which has the function of developing and multiplying T lymphocytes, bone marrow cells that help fight microorganisms, especially in the first years of life;
- Spleen: is the largest lymphatic organ, located in the upper left part of the abdomen, above the stomach, being responsible for producing lymphocytes, in addition to filtering the blood, eliminating micro -aged organisms and cells;
- Appendix: The appendix contains lymphoid tissue that helps fight bacteria before they reach the intestine. In addition, it is believed that the appendix also stores beneficial bacteria, helping to balance the intestinal flora after an infection.
There are also tonsils, also known as tonsils, which are clusters of lymph nodes, located in the mouth, in addition to Peyer's patches, which are located in the intestine, and which are also responsible for producing cells of the immune system and help protect against microorganisms.
5. Lymph nodes
Lymph nodes are small glands found in regions such as the armpit, groin and neck that are responsible for filtering lymph, removing bacteria, viruses and cancer cells, in addition to producing and storing lymphocytes and other immune cells that fight microorganisms present in the lymph.
What is lymphatic drainage for
Lymphatic drainage is a procedure that consists of performing a massage with the hands, with gentle movements, which aims to stimulate and facilitate the circulation of lymph through its vessels, and reach the bloodstream more quickly.
As the lymphatic system does not pump, as is done by the heart, this massage can help in the return of lymph, especially in people who have fragility of these vessels and a tendency to retain fluid, helping to reduce swelling. on the face or body. See how lymphatic drainage is performed.
Main diseases of the lymphatic system
Some situations can cause changes in the functioning of the lymphatic system, resulting in diseases, such as:
Filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is one of the main diseases of the lymphatic system, being caused by the parasite Wuchereria bancrofti, which is transmitted to people through the bite of the mosquito of the genus Culex sp.
In this disease, the parasite reaches the lymphatic vessels and blocks the flow of lymph, causing swelling of the organ that had its circulation obstructed. Know the symptoms and learn how to treat filariasis.
Some types of cancer can happen in the vessels and organs of the lymphatic circulation, such as lymphoma, a type of cancer where the multiplication of lymphocytes is increased, compromising the lymphatic circulation and resulting in the formation of the tumor, which can lead to symptoms, such as malaise, itching and weight loss. Learn about other symptoms and the main causes of lymphoma.
In addition, some types of cancer can also block the lymphatic channels, disrupting the circulation of lymph.
Allergies are body reactions against substances such as dust, pollen and cigarette smoke, which can cause conditions such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, conjunctivitis and dermatitis.
Allergies happen when the body increases the production of defense cells to try to fight the substances, leading to inflammation and symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose or difficulty breathing.
4. Enlarged lymph nodes
Lymph nodes are enlarged due to infections such as pharyngitis, mononucleosis, or HIV infection, or may be enlarged due to infection or cancer.
Lymphadenitis is an inflammation caused by microorganisms in the lymph nodes or glands, which are enlarged and soft.
5. Malformation of the lymphatic system
Malformations of the lymphatic system can also cause changes in the circulation of lymph, which can happen due to changes in the vessels or lymph nodes. By impairing the circulation of lymph to the bloodstream, these situations can cause lymphedema, which is the swelling generated by the accumulation of lymph and fluid in the body.
6. Lesions in organs of the lymphatic system
Injuries to organs of the lymphatic system, such as bone marrow, spleen and lymph nodes, caused by blows or as a result of drug treatments, can also alter lymphatic circulation.
Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer with radiotherapy or removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit region, for example, may have alterations in the lymph drainage capacity.
When to go to the doctor
It is important to seek medical advice when experiencing extreme tiredness or signs such as swelling for a long time, with no apparent cause or that interferes with daily activities, weight loss and fever.