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Lymphatic System

Written by Amy Hall
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How the Lymphatic System Works

The lymphatic system is a system of small tubes that run throughout the body, which are called lymph vessels. The lymphatic system is like the blood circulation system--the tubes branch through all parts of the body like the arteries and veins that carry blood. The difference is that the lymphatic system carries a virtually colorless liquid called lymph.

Lymph is a clear fluid that circulates around the body tissues. It contains a high number of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that fight off infection. The lymph flows through the lymphatic system to the biggest lymph vessel--the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct then empties back into the blood circulation.

Lymphatic Organs

Along the tube-like structures (lymph vessels) are small bean-shaped lymph glands or nodes. You can feel some of the lymph nodes in your body that are located in the armpits, neck, and groin region. When there is an infection present in the body, your lymph nodes become swollen and you can actually feel them and sometimes see them bulging a bit.

Other organs in the lymphatic system include the spleen, thymus, tonsils and adenoids. The three main jobs of the lymphatic system and it's organs is to drain fluids back into the bloodstream from the tissues, filter lymph, and fight off infections. These functions work together harmoniously and are really part of the immune system, as they keep infection and illness at bay.


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