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Lymphatic & Immune System

Your lymphatic system, like your blood, is an important highway through your body. Instead of blood flowing through the small tubes, the lymphatic system contains lymph fluid. There are many lymph nodes around your body that act as hubs for the lymph. The primary organs for this system are these lymph nodes as well as the spleen, your tonsils, and the thymus.

The lymphatic system has multiple functions:

  • The absorption of fats and fat-soluble molecules from the food in your intestines.
  • The collection and recycling of the fluid that slowly leaks from the body’s cells. Without the recycling of this fluid, the body’s organs would swell up!
  • The immune system, which protects your from potentially harmful germs, like bacteria or viruses. To fight germs, your body filters them through the lymph nodes and the spleen so they can be destroyed by special types of white blood cells, lymphocytes. These white blood cells are created in the bone marrow and mature in different organs of your body. By creating antibodies, lymphocytes can recognize antigens, proteins from outside your body, that could potentially harm your body. Once recognizing your body has antibodies that match a specific antigen, your immune system will always be able to recognize it! This is how vaccines work: the vaccine gives you a deactivated antigen for a specific sickness, which allows your immune cells to create antibodies that recognize it. This way, when your body comes into contact with the real bacteria, virus, or fungi, your immune system is prepared and will be able to fight it off. Besides protecting yourself, it’s very important to get vaccinated to protect others around you.

Written using information from the CDC, the NIH National Cancer Institute, and the NCBI.

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