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Lymphatic system

The lymphatic system , usually also known as the ‘vascular system’, has a primary function in our body. Being also, this part of the circulatory system of our body . If you want to know in detail about the composition of the lymphatic system, as well as its functioning and the diseases related to it, then continue reading.

What is the lymphatic system?

As has just been mentioned, the lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system , and it could be said that it basically functions as the vehicle through which the ‘lymph’ is transported in our body . It also has some similarities with the circulatory system, which is why it is considered a secondary circulation system.

What is the lymphatic system for?

The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting lymph through our body. Said lymph can be described as a transparent colored liquid , which moves through the lymphatic vessels, which obviously make up the lymphatic system.

Thus, the main function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph through our body, as mentioned above. Although on some occasions there are those who confuse the fluid that transforms the lymphatic system, it is limited to transporting only lymph, not blood, as has sometimes been mistakenly believed.

What is its composition

Being a large and vitally important circulatory system for our body, its composition is quite broad. Being thus, composed of a large number of elements. Among them are various organs and tissues classified into primary and secondary characteristics according to their level of importance and the functions they perform.

Next, we will mention in greater detail all the lymphoid organs and tissues that make up the lymphatic system or vascular system . In this way, you will be able to know the great importance of this anatomical structure for the proper functioning of our body.

Lymphoid organs and tissues

As mentioned before, lymphoid organs can be classified in two ways, thus dividing these into primary and secondary lymphoid organs. Each of these classifications fulfill functions of great importance for our body

However, before going into the subject of these classifications, you should also know about the lymphocytes that are part of these primary and secondary lymphoid organs .

Composition of lymphoid organs and tissues

For there to be lymphoid tissue as such, a majority of lymphocytes must be present in the tissue assemblages. These lymphocytes are divided into two types and fulfill certain tasks. These being the following.

T lymphocytes’

It can be said that ‘T’ lymphocytes are the guardians of our immune system . This is because they have the task of attacking or eradicating infected cells in our body. In this way, to ensure that our body is immune, they can use both the use of macrophages, as well as other types of lymphocytes.

‘B’ lymphocytes

For their part, ‘B’ lymphocytes are also responsible for protecting our immune system. However, they do so through a mechanism known as ‘humoral immunity’. In addition, these lymphocytes fulfill the function of identifying antigens in our body, protecting us through the generation of various types of antibodies .

Primary lymphoid organs

As mentioned above, the lymphoid organs are classified into primary and secondary. Where the primary lymphoid function is to allow the maturation process that lymphocytes go through . These being subsequently differentiated according to their classification ‘T’ or ‘B’ respectively.

The primary lymphoid organs are 2, the thymus and the bone marrow . Being the specific functions that each of these fulfill in our body, the following:

The scam

This primary lymphoid organ fulfills the function of generating ‘t’ lymphocytes as well as ensuring that their maturation process is carried out properly. It is for this reason that it is usually considered one of the most important organs in the lymphatic system .

Bone marrow

For its part, the bone marrow fulfills another vital function for our body, without which it would be quite defenseless against a large number of external agents, it is ‘hematopoiesis’. This process basically is responsible for the cellular production that are present in our blood .

Secondary lymphoid organs

Also known as peripheral lymphoid organs, they are characterized by acting diligently to protect our body from foreign agents that can harm it . Among these secondary lymphoid organs are the spleen, as well as the lymphoid tissue associated with the mucous membranes and lymph nodes, which we will talk about below.

Spleen

It is one of the most important organs for our body, since it fulfills the function of filtering our blood . In this way, it ensures that our blood is clean, and free of cells that are altered. However, that’s not all, the spleen is also responsible for other important functions, such as:

  • Contributes to the transportation of nutrients.
  • It participates in digestion, by participating in the process of digestion transforming the food that enters our body.
  • It is the organ in charge of eradicating obsolete blood cells for our body.
  • It plays an important role in the manufacture of lymphocytes.

Lymph nodes

These are also usually known as ‘lymph nodes’, and are characterized by being scattered throughout our body. It should be noted that one of the main functions of these lymphoid tissues is to allow both the entry and exit of interstitial fluid through their capsules . Functioning in this way as a kind of ‘purifiers’ of the lymph, hence the reason that they can be found distributed throughout our body.

In addition, the presence of these lymph nodes in our body is numerous, so it is believed that on average each human being has around 800 and 1000 lymph nodes throughout their body.

These also, after their grouping, tend to consolidate the famous ‘ganglion chains’ , increasing their presence considerably, in the areas where the most prominent presence of the lymphatic vessels is found.

Lymphoid tissues

Although the concept related to lymphoid tissues can be quite broad, within their classification we will mainly find both Peyer’s patches and tonsils. Being possible that you have heard about these two lymphoid tissues. In case you do not know them, below we will mention some of their functions.

Peyer’s patches

Basically, peyer’s patches are part of the lymphatic tissue that is located in the intestinal walls (specifically in the small intestine). These plates fulfill the important task of detecting antigens that can penetrate our body through ingested food.

When these antigens are detected, the Peyer’s patches proceed to eradicate them through macrophages . In this way, they ensure that the intestinal area of ​​our body is free of bacteria that may present a potential threat to our body.

Taking into account the important role played by peyer’s patches and the mechanism they use to eradicate microorganisms, it can be assumed that they are mostly composed of ‘B’ lymphocytes.

The tonsils

The tonsils are also an important part of the lymphoid tissue associated with the mucosa. Although the tonsils are easily recognizable by most people, usually only the ‘palatine tonsils’ are distinguished .

However, there are also the pharyngeal tonsils and lingual tonsils that also play an important role. About which, we will proceed to talk to you in detail briefly.

Pharyngeal tonsil

These are also popularly known as ‘adenoids’ and are characterized by being located right at the junction point between the nasal and oral cavity . Like the palatine tonsils, the pharyngeal tonsils also perform important functions to protect our body.

So when they fail or undergo abnormal growth, also known as ‘hypertrophy’, various pathologies may be present, such as:

  • Halitosis.
  • Chronic Nasal Drip.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Snoring.

Lingual tonsil

Although these tonsils are not well known, they are also part of the tonsil system as such, and therefore of the lymphoid tissue. As can be guessed from its name, the lingual tonsils are located on the tongue , these two being located on each side of the tongue respectively, very close to its base.

In terms of their functions, they closely resemble those performed by the palatine tonsils and the pharyngeal tonsils . In this way, these 3 types of tonsils protect our body from all viruses, bacteria and microorganisms that can enter it through the oral and nasal routes.

Palatine tonsil

For its part, the palatine tonsils are those that we can find located at the back of our mouth , and those that are usually recognized with the naked eye. These two masses of lymphoid tissue, together with the lingual tonsils, are responsible for greatly protecting our body from all threats that may enter through the oral route.

Due to its exhaustive defensive function, the palatine tonsil is usually the one that is most frequently damaged . Thus requiring in a large number of cases, their surgical removal when they experience great deterioration and can no longer fulfill their respective defensive function.

It should be noted that these 3 types of tonsils mentioned above are part of the well-known ‘waldeyer’s ring’ . This ring groups all the lymphatic tissue present in the pharynx, which are considered as tonsils.

Lymphatic vessels

As can be guessed from its name, the lymphatic vessels fulfill the function of conducting the lymph and everything that makes up this substance. Being able to transport in this way, both the cells and the material that the body will discard through the lymph.

These vessels can be found around our body and come in different sizes . Next, we will talk about some of them, and the functions they can fulfill in the body. Which in turn, is related to the lymph nodes mentioned above.

Lymphatic capillaries

First we have the lymphatic capillaries. These are present in practically all areas of our body, and are characterized by being the smallest lymphatic vessels.

In addition, it is in the lymphatic capillaries where the lymphatic system begins a transformation process that allows it to carry out its functions effectively. On the other hand, the respective lymph collection also occurs in these lymphatic capillaries. Despite its small size, it is of great importance for the proper functioning of the vascular system.

Prelymphatic channels

Second, we have the prelymphatic channels, which despite not being lymphatic vessels as such, fulfill a decisive task. These are responsible for the interstitial fluid to reach the lymphatic capillaries , where later said fluid will become part of the lymph.

Thoracic duct

Finally, we find the thoracic duct, characterized by being the largest vessel in our body. It has an extension that goes from the level of the abdomen, to the well-known ‘venous angle’ that is located near the thoracic region.

Thus, due to its large size and the functions it performs, the thoracic duct is one of the primary lymphatic vessels in our body.

How does the lymphatic system work?

The functioning of the lymphatic system is really curious. Since, despite the fact that it does not have a pumping system as such, it achieves through various functions of our body, promoting the transfer of lymph through it.

In this way, it takes advantage of the functioning of both the muscles found in different regions of the body as well as the bone structure itself, so that the interstitial fluid or lymph is promoted in the body.

Let us also not forget that the lymph also has its own valve system . This fulfills the important function of preventing the interstitial fluid from presenting obstructions or being unable to continue with its trajectory.

Lymphatic system diseases

In view of the fact that the lymphatic system is responsible for covering practically our entire body, the pathologies that can occur related to it are diverse. Thus, among some of the main ones, the following:

Lymphadenopathy

Lymphadenopathy is usually related to swelling of the lymph nodes that occurs suddenly. Due to the large presence of these lymph nodes throughout the body, these inflammations or tumors can appear as a consequence of various factors. However, they are usually related mainly to infections.

It should be noted that in most cases the adenopathies tend to have a mild clinical picture. However, sometimes they can be much more severe, being thus mainly related to the presence of cancer . In the presence of any type of adenopathy, the ideal is to go immediately to the doctor for the corresponding tests.

Lymphedema

It is another of the most common pathologies related to the lymphatic system. The Lymphedema , occurs at the impossibility of the lymphatic system to comply with due process of drainage of the interstitial fluid. This as a consequence, produces a retention of fluid in the body, and later a swelling in various parts of the body.

It should be noted that the presence of this pathology is seen more frequently in patients with cancer cases, because they may be exposed to cases of ‘ganglionic sclerosis’. On the other hand, all those who have had lymph nodes removed are also at greater risk of suffering from lymphedema.

Lipedema

This is also known as the ‘disease of the wide ankles’ , because those who suffer from this pathology usually accumulate fat in the extremities (mainly the legs), thus obstructing the vascular or lymphatic system. However, if this disease progresses and is not treated in a timely manner, it can also affect the arms.

It should be noted that this is a pathology that usually affects women especially. Thus, the cases of lipedema present in men are rare. Therefore, it is estimated that the factors that cause the appearance of this disease are mainly associated with hormonal factors , and in some cases with genetic factors.

Likewise, this disease is often mistakenly associated with obesity problems . However, both pathologies are not the same, so you should try to establish clear differences between the two. Since, lipedema cannot be treated with the same methods used to reduce the problems caused by obesity.

Lymphangitis

It is a disease where the lymphatic channels can become inflamed by the presence of external agents harmful to our body, such as bacteria. It should be noted that this disease usually appears due to ‘streptococci’ . However, in other cases the presence of this pathology may originate due to other types of factors.

Since it is a skin disease, it can be caused by openings in the skin. From scratches to other types of wounds caused in the skin area can represent a risk factor for the presence of lymphangitis. However, when this disease appears, it does so with some particular symptoms, such as the following:

  • Shaking chills.
  • Fever .
  • Headache.
  • Irregular pressure at the heart level.

In addition, when lymphangitis progresses, the presence of red lines of different sizes can be seen on the skin. In addition, depending on the state of the pathology, these lines may or may not present discomfort or pain upon physical contact.

Thus, it is important to treat this skin disorder in a timely manner . Since, in case the disease evolves and no treatment is carried out, it can endanger our life.

Lymphoma or cancer

Although the appearance of lymphoma or cancer caused by problems related to the lymphatic system is not very frequent, it does represent a risk. So when lymphocytes are corrupted or generated ‘malignant’, they directly affect the lymph nodes and sometimes other parts of the body. Thus originating the appearance of cancer.

It should be noted that the specific factors responsible for the general appearance of lymphomas or cancer are currently unknown . However, the presence of this pathology is usually associated mainly with bacterial agents, or external factors related to radiation exposure, as well as chemicals that are harmful to the body.

The main symptoms of lymphomas can appear aesthetically with the swelling of these swollen glands. Thus, it can appear in common areas such as the groin and neck. However, these lymphomas can also develop in other areas of the body where their early detection is more difficult.

However , in the presence of any abnormal inflammation in the body, it is recommended to see a health professional . In this way, if it is a lymphoma, it can be treated in time according to its type (depending on whether it is an indolent or aggressive lymphoma).

The lymphatic system, a vital mechanism to protect our body

As we have seen, the lymphatic system plays a vital role for the proper functioning of our immune system . Hence, the great importance before the correct functioning of this system so that our body can react and protect itself against any threat through lymphocytes.

Remember that before any symptoms that indicate a possible disease related to the lymphatic system, it is best to go immediately to the doctor. In this way, by detecting any pathology early, you will be able to carry out a treatment that will allow you to treat it successfully.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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