Let's explain the lymphatic system

My first reaction to being diagnosed with lymphoedema was 'lymph what?' Like many people I thought I knew about lymph nodes 'they are related to cancer, aren't they?

Who remembers as a child their mother checking the glands in their neck to see if they were swollen usually when you had a sore throat?  This action would determine if a trip to the GP was imminent for antibiotics.  How many of us would know this simple action was checking part of the lymphatic system?

I was sixty when I started to realise that there was a condition called lymphoedema and for the first time I was introduced to the lymphatic system.  The lymphatic system is made up of groups of lymph nodes throughout the body and are connected by a network of lymph vessels.  This system is responsible for lymphatic health therefore, our overall health.

From the diagram see how the lymphatic system is connected to every aspect of our bodies.

Overview of the lymphatic system

Lymphoedema is caused by a failure of the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is made up of groups of lymph nodes throughout the body connected by a network of lymph vessels

When working normally, the lymphatic system of vessels, like blood capillaries, collect fluid & particles, such as protein, fat hormones, bacteria & harmful cells. 


Removes waste products

Acts as a one-way drainage system transporting 'lymph fluid' through a filtering system of nodes to destroy the harmful particles & returns fluid to the blood stream.

Contains white blood-cells called lymphocytes which fight infection

Responsible for:

Maintenance of fluid balance & transport of fluid from tissue spaces to the circulation.

Nutrition of fluid balance from the gut & transport back to the circulation.

The role of the lymphatic system is to fight infection.

Immunity & defence by the removal of dying or mutant cells, transporting antigens & immune cells, & generating immune responses to infections

Lymphatic System is closely associated with the circulatory system