You may recall from our Lymphatic System Overview [A Lymphatic Schematic], that the lymphatic system functions as our body’s built in sanitation system – the plumbing that carries away and filters out the poisonous waste products from every cell, tissue, and organ in the body.
When our lymphatic system is functioning at it’s best, we are in good health. Our body is working just as it should and waste is effectively removed from our cells. Infection is kept at bay.
However, sometimes our lymphatic system is unable to function adequately due to
- Blockage: if the lymph system is bogged down and clogged up, all that waste is left sitting in the body; effectively stalling the immune system AND the body’s ability to fight off viruses and infection. Swelling of lymph nodes due to blockage is also known as lymphedema.
- Infection: when bacteria and viruses are recognized by the lymph fluid, the lymph nodes produce infection-fighting white blood cells, which can cause swelling. Enlargement of the lymph nodes is officially known as lymphadenopathy.
- Cancer: Tumors may block the lymphatic ducts or may travel (metastasize) to lymph nodes near a tumor interfering with lymph fluid flow.
Infections such as strep throat, locally infected skin wounds, or viral infections may cause swelling within the lymph nodes. The enlargement of the lymph nodes may be localized to the area of infection, as in strep throat, or more generalized as in HIV infection.
Thankfully, the majority of enlarged lymph nodes are NOT dangerous; they are simply the body’s way of fighting off an infection, much like a fever.
It is important to note, however, that a chronically congested lymphatic system CAN lead to serious illnesses and chronic diseases which stem from a weakened immune system.
So how do you know if your Lymphatic is Problematic?
You may have a sluggish or congested lymphatic system if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
How does YOUR lymphatic system score?
If it doesn’t seem good, don’t lose hope! There are a variety of options for caring for and improving your lymph health. [Read all about how to take care of your lymph system here: Avoid a Static Lymphatic]
*Remember: If your lymph nodes become significantly enlarged and persist longer than the infection, then they may be worrisome. There is no specific size cutoff, but typically nodes that persist at larger than a centimeter are more worrisome and warrant examination by a doctor. Talk to your Family Doctor if you have any concerns regarding your Lymphatic System.*
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