What is your lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is a support system to the cardiovascular system and plays a large role in your body’s immunity.

Sounds important, right? Yep! It totally is. And yet, you probably don’t really know what it is, even if you have heard it before.

I like to think of the lymphatic system as the “tech crew” of your body… you don’t really notice them until there’s a problem. And we should all be appreciative of the tech crew, right?

Just a quick shout out to my tech friends…

How does your lymphatic system do all of that?

If you think back to your biology class on the cardiovascular system, you might recall something called capillaries. These are the tiny little blood vessels that form a network between the arteries and the veins in your body.

Well, the capillaries have a very thin cellular wall that allows the fluid to balance by being pushed out of the system to become “extracellular fluid”. This is a generic term for water, small proteins and whatever else gets pushed out by these capillaries.

The lymphatic system has a system of lymphatic vessels similar to the cardiovascular system. It pulls in the extracellular fluid (which is known as “lymph” once it enters a lymphatic vessel). The lymph is then circulated to the nearest lymph node.

 

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Fun Facts

  • Your tonsils are actually a very well known lymph node.
  • You have about 600 lymph nodes in your body.
  • You create about 3 liters (roughly .8 gallons) of lymph per day.

 

The lymph node is a bundle of cells that act as a filter for the lymph.

Once the lymph has been filtered, it continues to travel through the lymphatic vessels which takes the lymph ultimately back to the cardiovascular system near both of your collarbones. The heart then pumps it out again with your regular blood flow.

In this way, the lymphatic system can kinda be pictured like a pit stop for the fluid in your blood. It takes a break from circulation to be filtered and processed by immune boosting lymph nodes and then it’s sent out again to circulate.