Our Body’s Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system, one of the most vital systems in the body, is essential for good health. It is closely related to our circulatory system as well as being a major part of our immune system.
What is the lymph system? It is an extensive drainage network that helps keep bodily fluid levels in balance and defends the body against infections. It is our body’s filtering system. It helps to remove toxins, wastes, excess fluids, and infection from all tissues in your body through proper flow and drainage.
The lymph system is made up of a network of lymphatic vessels that carry lymph — a clear, watery fluid that contains protein molecules, salts, and other substances — throughout the body and toward the heart. Your lymph system affects every cell and organ in your body. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
Did you know that the spleen, the largest lymphatic organ, contains white blood cells that fight infection or disease? Some bacteria or viruses that enter the body are collected by the lymph and passed on to the lymph nodes where they are filtered out and destroyed. This is one of the jobs of the lymphatic system: to detect, filter and remove bacteria and other foreign invaders from our body.
In this month’s Internet Challenge™, we will get to learn more details about our lymphatic system and see why it is sometimes called the “transportation highway” of our body. Are you ready to begin our online activity? (Note to readers: Some of the Web sites have advertisements; please do not click on them.)
Our first Web site is “Spleen and Lymphatic Health - Kids Health.org” that can be found at
Read the information on all three pages and then answer these questions. Click the arrow at the bottom of the page to advance to the next page.
1. What role does the spleen play in the lymphatic system?
2.The lymphatic system is a network of very large vessels that drain lymph fluid from only one section of the body.
3. Where can lymphatic tissue be found in the body?
4. Compare and contrast the thoracic duct to the right lymphatic duct.
5. Describe the appearance of a lymph node.
6. How does lymph fluid get pushed through the capillaries?
7. Describe the job of the lymph capillaries.
8. Why would a doctor check for swollen glands?
9. What does the medical term “splenomegaly” mean?
10. Why would someone need a tonsillectomy?
Let’s zoom over to “Encyclopedia Kids.Net.Au” that is located at
11. Describe the movement of lymph.
Go to “Biology for Kids – Lymphatic System” at http://www.biology4kids.com/files/systems_lymphatic.html
Read this section and answer the following question.
12. What is intercellular fluid (note to readers: this is also known as interstitial fluid) and what role does the lymph system have with this fluid?
Zoom over to “Cypress Natural Medicine – How to Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy” that is located at http://www.cnmhealth.com/2012/07/19/how-to-keep-your-lymphatic-system-healthy/
Look at this Web page, read the material and study the diagram of the lymphatic system. Answer these two questions.
13. List two warning signs of a slow-moving lymphatic system.
14. This Web site suggests natural approaches to keep your lymph system working correctly. Describe its advice regarding exercise.
Travel over to another Web site, “Dr. Standley.com – the Lymphatic System” that is located at http://www.drstandley.com/bodysystems_lymphatic.shtml
Read the material and then complete this question.
15. Describe the appearance of lymph in the intestines.
Extension Activities – Complete one or more of the activities listed below. Use any or all of the Web sites noted in our online activity.
* Go to “Discovery Fit & Health - How Stuff Works-Lymphatic System”
Click “What is Lymph?” and “The Lymph System.” Read the information on these two Web pages.
Your assignment: create a presentation on the lymphatic system for a group of school-age students (either elementary, middle or high school). Introduce the lymph system to your audience and discuss ways to keep our lymph system healthy.
Use paper and pencil (and art tools) or appropriate computer software to design your facility. After you are done, be sure to share it with your teacher and classmates. Talk about it!
*Have a roundtable discussion!
Review the Web sites below to get information about rebounding, a type of low-impact exercise usually performed on a rebounder (also known as a mini-trampoline). These sites discuss the special benefits of rebounding and its ability to improve the flow in the lymphatic system.
“Living and Raw Foods – Rebounding and the Lymph System”
“Squidoo.com - Why the Lymphatic System?”
Topic: Is Rebounding a safe and effective type of exercise to help keep our lymphatic system healthy?
What ways can you help make the public aware that exercise is also good for their lymphatic system?
Choose a group of students and ask your teacher to be the moderator. Brainstorm with your classmates and then get ready to share your opinions with one another. Talk about it!
* Test yourself! Quiz your friends! Test your mind! Design a card or puzzle game (ideas: Jeopardy, Concentration, or flash cards with questions and answers about the lymphatic system) by using the diagram below. Be creative and use the illustration below for your card game.
Print out the diagram below with teacher permission. Work with a partner or individually to create your card or puzzle game. Have a competition with your classmates and see who designs the most creative game. Be ready to share it with your teacher and classmates. Talk about it!
Photo download 11.2013.“Cypress Natural Medicine – How to Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy” http://www.cnmhealth.com/2012/07/19/how-to-keep-your-lymphatic-system-healthy/
* Read, Write and give your View!
Review the Web sites below.
“Buzzle.com - Lymphatic System Facts”
“Live Science – Lymphatic System”
The lymph system does not get thought about much by the average person – in fact, most of us do not even know exactly what our lymph system is. But it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that keeping your lymph system in order can save your health and even your life.
According to the Lymphatic Research Foundation, lymphatic problems are very prevalent in the United States population, resulting in a wide range of debilitating symptoms. The vital importance of the lymph system has only recently started to be recognized by the medical community.
When the lymph system is not working properly, tissues and organs cannot function well, immunity is jeopardized and the body’s cancer surveillance system breaks down.
Helping Your Lymphatic System to Help You by Sally Beare, October 6, 2011. Date of download: 11.2013.
Few people think about the role the lymphatic system plays in our body's immunity. Do you think we are ignoring the importance of our lymphatic system as we monitor our health? Are we neglecting our “transportation highway?” If so, how can we change it? How can we unclog our lymph system for better health? How can we help educate others about our body’s lymph system?
Give your point of view in a one-page report or summary. Be prepared to share your comments with your teacher and classmates. Talk about it!
Congratulations! You have done an outstanding job completing this Internet Challenge™.Geri Ruane
1. The spleen is located in the upper left part of the abdomen under the ribcage. It works as part of the lymphatic system to protect the body, clearing worn-out red blood cells and other foreign bodies from the bloodstream to help fight off infection. The spleen contains lymphocytes and another kind of white blood cell called macrophages, which engulf and destroy bacteria, dead tissue, and foreign matter and remove them from the blood passing through the spleen.
2. (b) False. The lymphatic system is a network of very small tubes (vessels) that drain lymph fluid from all over the body.
3. The major parts of the lymph tissue are located in the bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland, lymph nodes, and the tonsils. The heart, lungs, intestines, liver, and skin also contain lymphatic tissue.
4. One of the major lymphatic vessels is the thoracic duct, which begins near the lower part of the spine and collects lymph from the pelvis, abdomen, and lower chest. The thoracic duct runs up through the chest and empties into the blood through a large vein near the left side of the neck. The right lymphatic duct is the other major lymphatic vessel. It collects lymph from the right side of the neck, chest, and arm, and empties into a large vein near the right side of the neck.
5. Lymph nodes are round or kidney shaped. They can be up to one inch in diameter. Most lymph nodes are found in clusters in the neck, armpit, and groin areas. Nodes are also located along the lymphatic pathways in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis, where they filter the blood.
6. Lymph fluid is pushed along through lymph capillaries when a person breathes or the muscles contract.
7. The lymph capillaries are very thin and have many tiny openings that let gases, water, and nutrients pass through to the surrounding cells, nourishing them and taking away waste products. When lymph fluid passes through in this way, it is called interstitial fluid.
8. When a person has an infection, germs collect in the lymph nodes. If the throat is infected, for example, the lymph nodes of the neck may swell.
9. A splenomegaly is an enlarged spleen. In someone who is healthy, the spleen is usually small enough that it cannot be felt when you press on the abdomen. But certain diseases can cause the spleen to swell to several times its normal size. Most commonly, this is due to a viral infection, such as mononucleosis. But in some cases, more serious diseases such as cancer can cause the spleen to expand.
10. Someone with repeated tonsil infections may need to have their tonsils removed in a procedure called tonsillectomy. Tonsillitis is caused by an infection of the tonsils, the lymphoid tissues in the back of the mouth at the top of the throat that normally help to filter out bacteria. When the tonsils are infected, they become swollen and inflamed, and can cause a sore throat, fever, and difficulty swallowing. The infection can also spread to the throat and surrounding areas, causing pain and inflammation.
11. The lymphatic system is not a closed system and has no central pump; the lymph moves slowly and under low pressure. Lymph vessels have one-way valves and depend mainly on the movement of skeletal muscles to squeeze fluid through them.
12. We are made of water and fluids; there are very few solid parts of our body. All of those fluids are usually contained in cells. There are some fluids found between the cells or actually seep out of the cells. This intercellular fluid slowly begins to accumulate and must be returned to the cells and the blood stream. Enter the lymph system. The lymph system gathers those fluids and returns them to your blood.
13. Common symptoms of a sluggish lymph system can be fatigue, general body aches and pains, recurrent infections or illness and swollen glands.
14. Exercise -the lymphatic system relies on activity and muscle contraction to move lymph around the body. Jump on a rebounder (mini-trampoline) for 5-15 minutes each day. Rebounding has been proven to be an effective way to move lymph fluid through the body.
15.Lymph is usually clear, transparent and colorless fluid; although in vessels draining the intestines the lymph may appear milky due to the presence of absorbed fats.
Extension Activities – Students’ own work.