What is the Lymphatic System?

Nightingale Blog_What is the Lymphatic System

This week, we want to shed light on the lymphatic system.

Everybody has one, but not everyone understands what it is or the important role it plays in the body! Hopefully this will provide a general overview for those who would like to learn more about their bodies. This information is especially helpful for those who are living with lymphedema.

Key terms:

  • Lymphatic system: circulatory system of vessels in the body that carries lymph fluid
  • Lymph: clear fluid in your body; contains lymphocytes
  • Lymphocytes: white blood cells that defend the body, found in the lymph
  • Lymphatic organs: organs that are part of the lymphatic system – tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes, thymus
  • Lymph nodes: where lymph gathers to be filtered; found throughout the body

The lymphatic system is a system in your body that is made up of lymphatic vessels that circulate lymph. Lymph is fluid that surrounds your organs and contains a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which defend your body from invaders. The organs involved in the lymphatic system include the tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes and thymus. These organs also screen the lymph for waste and bacteria to be expelled – as such, it is a critical part of your immune system.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, due to damaged or removed lymph nodes. This most commonly happens during cancer treatment. Because the lymphatic system is unable to drain, it causes one or more of the limbs to swell. This condition can be managed with the help of a lymphedema therapist and compression wear – stay tuned for our next Nightingale Newsletter for more information on Lymphedema.

For more information, check out https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-cancer/the-lymphatic-system/?region=on & https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lymphedema/symptoms-causes/syc-20374682