What are the 4 main functions of the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, vessels and organs that work together to move a colorless, watery fluid called lymph back into your circulatory system (your bloodstream).
What does the lymphatic system do?
The lymphatic or lymph system involves an extensive network of vessels that passes through almost all our tissues to allow for the movement of a fluid called lymph. Lymph circulates through the body in a similar way to Blood.
There are about 600 lymph nodes in the body. These nodes swell in response to infection, due to a build-up of lymph fluid, bacteria, or other organisms and immune system cells.
A person with a throat infection, for example, may feel that their “glands” are swollen. Swollen glands can be felt especially under the jaw, in the armpits, or in the groin area. These are, in fact, not glands but lymph nodes.
They should see a doctor if swelling does not go away, if nodes are hard or rubbery and difficult to move, if there is a fever, unexplained weight-loss, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.
The lymphatic system has three main functions:
- It maintains the balance of fluid between the blood and tissues, known as fluid homeostasis.
- It forms part of the body’s immune system and helps defend against bacteria and other intruders.
- It facilitates absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients in the digestive system.
The system has special small vessels called lacteals. These enable it to absorb fats and fat-soluble nutrients from the gut.
They work with the blood capillaries in the folded surface membrane of the small intestine. The blood capillaries absorb other nutrients directly into the bloodstream.