What is the lymphatic system?
“The body’s hazardous waste disposal service”
The lymphatic system is the network of vessels through which lymph fluid drains from the tissues into the blood. As long as we are healthy, there are hardly any reasons to think about the lymphatic system. We only become aware of it when it is impaired – as in the case of lymphedema, for example.
The lymphatic system can be compared with a “hazardous waste disposal” because it transports waste products out of the body. These include, for example, proteins, metabolic breakdown products, inflammatory products or fat from the abdominal cavity. The lymphatic system runs alongside the blood vessels and covers our entire body like a net. Every day it transports up to four liters of purified lymph back into the blood circulation.
Lymphedema can develop if lymphatic drainage is interrupted or impaired. Lymphedema occurs when the lymph fluid cannot flow towards the heart properly and accumulates in the tissues – it can be compared with a sort of traffic jam. The arms and legs swell up and edema forms, i.e. chronic swelling.
There are so many different treatment options available today that you can lead an almost perfectly normal life, even with lymphedema.