Lymphatic and immune systemDecember 31, 2016
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels, nodes and organs serving a dual purpose in the body.
- Firstly the lymphatic system is responsible for draining interstitial fluid back to the circulatory system. Interstitial fluid filters out from the blood vessels to bathe the body’s tissues. This fluid is then absorbed into the lymphatic vessels along with tissue and cellular wastes, cleaned and returned to the blood vessels in a continual recycling process. The fluid flowing through the lymphatic vessels is known as lymph and contains water, protein molecules, salts, glucose, urea and disease-fighting white blood cells.
- The other important role of the lymphatic system is that of combating disease. The lymphatic system is packed with specialised white blood cells which use various methods to eradicate foreign bodies or invaders, such as bacteria, viruses and cancer cells.
The lymphatic system is a one way system of lymph vessels. Beginning at blind ended capillaries, the vessels gradually increase in size and pass through aggregates of lymphoid tissue or lymph nodes, finally converging into the large lymph trunks which drain into the right lymphatic duct and the thoracic duct, which in turn empty into the veins of the circulatory system. The lymph vessels contain valves to prevent the back flow of lymph fluid and with no pumping system, rely on movements of skeletal muscle to pump lymph back to the heart.
The lymph vessels pass through lymph nodes, which manufacture lymphocytes, with each node connected to incoming and outgoing lymphatic vessels. Each lymph node consists of a mass of lymphatic tissue surrounded by a fibrous capsule. The lymph nodes are usually grouped together, concentrations of lymph nodes which serve the head and limbs are found in the lower jaw and neck, the armpit and the groin; lymph from the internal organs of the thorax and abdomen drains into chains of lymph nodes along major arteries and the aorta. Lacteals important in the absorption of fats, are lymphatic vessels in the walls of the digestive system which collect large molecules and lipids extracted from food.
The Lymph Organs
The lymphoid organs include the thymus, the spleen and mucosa- associated lymphoid tissue.
The thymus, found in the upper part of the chest between the heart and the sternum, is the first lymphoid organ to develop in the embryo. The thymus secretes hormones, which it uses to manufacture mature T lymphocytes. In immune response , these specialised lymphocytes recognise foreign-body antigens.
The spleen, found in the left side of the abdomen beneath the diaphragm, has the largest concentration of lymphatic tissue in the body. The spleen filters blood through an extensive network of capillaries and sinuses called the red pulp. Lymphocytes are produced and stored in the spleen.
The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue is found in the lining of the respiratory, urogenital and digestive tracts. These tissues contain B and T lymphocytes, presenting a line of defence in those cavities of the body exposed to foreign invaders from the external environment.
Lymphocytes are crucial to the body’s immune system. There are 3 major types of lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells . B lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow while T lymphocytes are produced in the thymus. Lymphocytes either react to specific antigens, stimulating the production of antibodies or engulf invading foreign cells.
Surfcoast massage is located in Torquay and Jan Juc and are fully qualified in lymphatic drainage and can help you to understand and treat the problem. Contact surfcoast massage on 0438668878 to book an appointment or to find out more speak to Lisa.