Healthy Living

What Are Lymph Nodes, Where Are They, and What Do They Do?

What Are Lymph Nodes, Where Are They, and What Do They Do?

Key Takeaways

  • Lymph nodes are also known as lymph glands.
  • Each lymph node is covered by a capsule of connective tissue.
  • Lymph nodes can be found throughout the body.

What Are Lymph Nodes?

The different systems in the body play a role in keeping the body to work and function properly. The lymphatic system is as important as other systems. It is a complex network of valves, thin vessels, nodes, ducts, and organs. The lymphatic system helps protect and preserve the body’s fluid environment by producing, filtering, and transmitting lymph.

Lymph nodes are small glands that are part of the body’s lymphatic system. The lymph nodes filter the clear fluid, which circulates through the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes also store white blood cells that are responsible for killing organisms that invade the body. They are an important part of the body’s immune system.

Also known as lymph glands, lymph nodes are soft, small, and round structures. They are connected with each other through a lymphatic chain that is similar to the channels of blood vessels. Every single lymph node is covered by a capsule of connective tissue. The lymph nodes contain some types of immune cells inside the capsule. These are mainly lymphocytes that produce proteins, which confine and fight microbes, viruses, and macrophages.

The Lymphatic System

In the lymphatic system, there is a watery fluid called lymph. Lymph circulates within the lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes can be found near the lymphatic vessels. Aside from the lymph, nutrients and waste materials also travel along the lymphatic system.

The lymph fluid bathes the body’s cells and tissue as it flows out from the capillary walls. Lymph carries oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. It also carries waste products such as carbon dioxide away from the cells. The lymph fluid will build up and will cause swelling when it is not drained properly. Thus, the lymph vessels must draw the lymph fluid up from the cells going to the chest. The lymph fluid will then be collected into a large vessel, which drains into a blood vessel close to the heart.

The lymphatic system plays an integral role in the body’s immune system. The lymph nodes are like checkpoint areas because when viruses, bacteria, and abnormal cells pass through the lymph channels, they are impeded at the node. Therefore, the lymph nodes can accumulate bacteria or diseased cells.

Lymph Nodes and Their Location

Lymph nodes can be found throughout the body. There are hundreds of them. They may be found in groups or just single. Most lymph nodes are located in the head and neck region. Lymph nodes are located underneath the skin, while other lymph nodes are located deep inside the body. Armpits, neck, under the jaw, above the collarbone, and groin are some of the areas where you can locate lymph nodes.

Lymph nodes are neither visible nor palpable, even the most superficial lymph nodes. Lymph nodes can be palpated if they are enlarged or swollen for some reason. When the body is attacked by foreign microorganisms, some lymph nodes will be swollen. The swollen lymph nodes may be felt in the neck, armpits or groin. In the long run, the foreign organisms are wiped out and removed by the cells that line the lymph nodes, and then, the swelling and pain subside.