The lymphatic system absorbs lipids from the intestines and transports them to the blood. This helps maintain fluid balance in the body. The lymphatic system is able to transport such materials through the use of lymphatic fluid, which is a clear, watery fluid produced by this system. This fluid distributes immune cells throughout the body, while also interacting with the blood in the circulatory system to drain fluid from cells and tissues. Another function of the lymphatic system is to defend the body against disease by producing lymphocytes. Lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell in the immune system that is important to the body’s defense against diseases.
The lymphatic system is composed of the thalamus, spleen, bone marrow, tonsils, and adenoids. Nodes and ducts also make up the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes, which are approximately one to two centimeters long produce the lymphatic fluid, which is made from the fluid and protein that has been extracted from of the blood (blood plasma). This lymph is then drained from the tissue in microscopic vessels called lymph capillaries.
The lymphatic system is made up of very fine capillaries that are next to the blood vessels. These merge into larger branches known as trunks, and these in turn merge into two larger vessels called ducts. The thoracic and right lymphatic ducts empty into the venous system in the region of the collarbones. Venous blood is blood returning to the heart. This means that it is deoxygenated. Lymph fluid runs into this type of blood, so any infection being carried in the lymphatic fluid would then go right into the heart.
However, when this fluid does not drain out normally like it is supposed to, it can collect in the extremities. Such a condition is called lymphedema. Lymphedema occurs when lymphatic fluid accumulates in the soft tissue of the body, specifically the extremities. When lymphatic fluid collects in the affected limb, it reduces oxygen availability in the transport system, interferes with wound healing, and provides a culture medium for bacteria. Lymphedema mainly occurs in the extremities due to the location of the lymph nodes, which are located right under the skin near the neck, armpits, and groin. The damage of these lymph nodes can lead to lymphedema in the surrounding areas, such as the arms and legs.