Your lymphatic system is a network of tiny vessels that carries an important body fluid called lymph. The lymph system includes the tonsils, adenoids, thymus, and spleen.
Lymph is a clear watery fluid that contains proteins and other important substances. An important part of the lymphatic system is the spleen, an organ located under the left side of your ribcage.
The spleen works with the lymphatic and circulatory systems to remove worn-out red blood cells. Your lymphatic system helps your circulatory system by collecting and returning fluid that leaks out of the bloodstream and by carrying away waste products.
The lymphatic system also works with your immune system to help you fight off infections.
Lymphatic System Conditions
If your lymphatic system is not working well, fluid can collect outside your blood vessels in your tissues and cause swelling. This swelling is called lymphedema.
Lymph nodes are clusters of lymphoid tissue located mainly in the neck, groin, and armpits. These nodes may swell up when your body is fighting off an infection, but sometimes the infection overwhelms the nodes and they become a focus of infection.
Tonsillitis is an example of lymphoid tissue in the throat that can become infected. Other problems of the lymphatic system are lymphangitis, inflammation of the lymph vessels, or lymphoma, cancer that originates in the lymphatic tissues.
There are two types of lymphoma, known as Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.