Lymphedema

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Lymph Nodes

Written by Amy Hall
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The Importance of Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes, also known as lymph glands, are our bodies defense mechanisms against infection and illness. All antibodies, which ensure immunity against infectious diseases, are formed in the lymphatic system. The lymph fluids combat and destroy all invading organisms (bacteria, etc.) that enter and endanger the body tissues.

This lymph fluid carries white blood cells known as lymphocytes, and a few red blood cells, and it is collected from the tissues in the body. It then flows in the lymphatic vessels through the lymph nodes where it is then added to the venous blood circulation. The lymph nodes become swollen and inflamed when an infection or inflammation is present somewhere in the body. Another job of the lymph is to absorb emulsified fat and pass it on in small, tolerable quantities to the bloodstream.

Staying Healthy

Unfortunately, some people are not able to maintain a healthful state when they have had some or all of their lymph nodes removed. Often times, cancer patients have their lymph nodes removed, which can set them up for infection and illness. Without the nodes, our bodies are just not able to fight off infection or illness as easily, and conditions such as lymphedema are not uncommon.

Symptoms of lymphedema include pain or swelling in an extremity, and can become very severe if action is not taken immediately to rectify the situation. Once a limb has become grossly swollen, therapies to reverse it are not as effective. Therapists may perform Manual Lymph Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy to get the lymph flowing again. The use of compression garments will most likely be recommended to help control the swelling and return the limb to normal or near-normal size.


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