The nodes, also known as lymph nodes, are protective mass tissues of the body that serve to gather the cells that protect the body from harmful and external agents. The ganglia act as defenders of our health, and are fundamental and indispensable for the body.

The ganglia are structurally small, oval, and encapsulated. They are found interspersed in the path of the lymphatic vessels, that is, they are made up of mass tissues that are located along the multiple pathways of the lymphatic system.

Approximately in the body we have from five hundred (500) to six hundred (600) ganglia, these are sufficiently dispersed throughout our body, although in some areas they tend to agglomerate in greater numbers, as in the case of the armpits. , groin and neck case.

Lymph node functions

The lymph nodes are made up of a series of resistant and fibrous trabeculae that flow through the lymph, which is a crystalline fluid that passes through the lymphatic vessels from the blood, whose main function is to act as a mediator in the nutritional changes between the tissues.

Nodules are found in the lymph nodes that act as protectors against infection. By acting as a filter, it is capable of eliminating both toxins and microorganisms. The moment an infection occurs, the lymph nodes can enlarge and cause a lot of pain, which is what usually happens. When a throat infection occurs, for example, in many cases, the lymph nodes located in the neck become inflamed.

Undoubtedly, the primary function of the lymph nodes is of the immune type; that is, they help the immune system to stay immune.

Why are lymph nodes important?

One of the main parts where the lymph nodes are located are the armpits, as they are located in the internal mammary area and supraclavicula, since these parts filter the lymphatic fluid that is drained from the mammary region.

Thanks to the function of the lymph nodes to filter bad microorganisms, they help protect the area where breast cancer is generated, that is one of the places where the lymph nodes tend to work more. Cancer cells can emerge from the breast through the bloodstream and surround the lymph nodes.

However, on many occasions, with or without lymph node involvement due to cancer, the lymph nodes are the most important indicators for this type of disease, since thanks to them the doctor can determine the treatment to be carried out.

Lymph node characteristics.

The nodes present very specific characteristics, such as:

  • Lymph nodes are tiny compositions, surrounded by connective tissue, oval or bean-shaped, these are located in the lymphatic vessels.
  • Its size can vary between 0.5 mm to 1 cm, but the lymph nodes measure between 1-2 cm.
  • They have a light color, white or gray.
  • Lymph nodes within the body are found in small groups of 8-10 pieces.
  • The outer part of the ganglia is made up of fleshy, capsule-shaped tissue.
  • Internally, the node divides into sectors called nodules, where B-cell and T-cell lymphocytes accumulate.
  • If the lymph nodes are enlarged, it is a sign of infection, since possibly B-cell and T-cell lymphocytes have reproduced to protect themselves from infectious agents.
  • When lymph enters the lymph node, the spaces called sinus collect it and transfer it to an undermined area called the hilum, which leads to an efferent lymphatic vessel.
  • The efferent lymphatic vessels are intended to carry lymph to the outside of the nodes.

What does it mean to have swollen lymph nodes?

When the lymph nodes are swollen, it is called (adenopathy), this means that an infection is developing in the body, and this leads to the body having a high traffic of lymphocytes. Second, they can also become enlarged as a result of antigen-specific B and T cell activation and proliferation.

There are a number of reasons why lymph nodes become swollen. As their function is to protect the immune system, they become sensitive to any change, which means that they can become inflamed by serious or insignificant things, such as, for example:

  • Common cold or flu infections .
  • Certain bacterial infections : such as tuberculosis, syphilis, poisoning, or salmonella.
  • Viral infections such as milkweed, measles or rubella.
  • Lupus infections .
  • Infections caused by other diseases such as malaria.
  • They can also become inflamed by taking some medications such as cotrimoxazole, hydantoin, among others.
  • Stress, poor sleep, poor diet, lack of nutrients.

The lymphadenopathy, is the term doctors use to refer to when they are inflamed lymph. Large lymph nodes are easy to feel and can reveal disease.

Lymph node structure.

The nodes are small oval-shaped organs that purify lymph and are located throughout the body. The nodes are part of the lymphatic system, which acts as the body’s defense mechanism against the spread of infections and cancer.

In the structure of their tissues, the lymph nodes show:

  • Lymphoid follicles: which is a dense cortical area that contains ovoid formations.
  • The Paracorteza: which is a diffuse paracortical zone without follicular organization.
  • The medullary cords: which are pale, lacunar-like cords crossed by basophilic cords.
  • The medullary light zone : where the medullary cords cross.
  • The conjunctival capsule: which surrounds the lymph node and is rich in collagen fibers and may contain adipocytes.
  • The ganglionic fabric: which is composed of reticulinic fibers produced by fibroblastic reticular cells.
  • Lymph : it appears as a crystalline liquid that is composed of water, leukocytes, fats and proteins that circulate outside the blood vessels, which is directed towards the area between the cells.

What is the location of the lymph nodes?

Basically, the lymph nodes are concentrated located in the groin, neck and under the armpits, the most appropriate places to fight various types of infections. Also, a fairly large number of lymph nodes are located in the abdominal cavity in the chest. The capillaries of the lymph nodes penetrate many internal organs and tissues.

Here are the locations of the major lymph node groups:

  • Lymph nodes in the neck . The location of the cervical lymph nodes, allows to reliably protect the body against various types of tumors and inflammatory processes. Some of the lymph nodes in the neck are deep inside the tissues. The location of the occipital and cervical lymph nodes is a chain that runs through all tissues of the neck and occipital region.
  • Lymph nodes in the groin. The location of the inguinal lymph nodes is concentrated near the large arteries and internal organs of the pelvis. A part of the inguinal nodes is located on the sides of the pubic bone under the skin. In the groin, the nodes are also located in small groups. This arrangement of lymph nodes in the groin allows them to signal about diseases of the pelvic organs and genital organs, and prevent the development of these diseases.
  • Lymph nodes under the armpits . The location of the axillary lymph nodes is concentrated in the cavity at the base of the arm in the cellulose. Depending on the location, the axillary lymph nodes are divided into two groups: internal and superficial.

All groups of lymph nodes are located in the body, in such a way that each of these groups is responsible for nearby organs. Therefore, according to the state of the nodes, it is possible to judge the presence of infections and inflammatory processes in different areas of our body. In their normal condition, the lymph nodes do not cause a person discomfort and unpleasant sensations, and inflammation and pain are of great concern.

Lymph nodes and cancer

Cancer can start in the lymph nodes, this is what we call lymphoma. Cancer cells can break away from a tumor and enter an area of ​​lymph nodes. These cells generally travel through the nodes near the tumor.

When doctors suspect that there may be a presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes, they immediately send several tests to see if there is indeed a presence of cancer. One of the tests may be a lymph node biopsy , which looks for B-cell leukemia / lymphoma.

A single node can have large or small amounts of cancer cells. When cancer has spread to the lymph nodes it is because it has entered an advanced stage and is called metastatic cancer. Cancer in the nodes gives rise to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that develops in lymphocytes, a prototype of a white blood cell.

Lymph node cancer can be treated with:

  • Chemotherapy.
  • Radiotherapy.
  • Lymph node removal.
  • Surgery.
  • Lymphadenectomy, which is the surgical removal of lymph nodes, which can help kill cancer before it spreads further.

How to reduce inflammation of the lymph nodes.

There are several types of medicated or home treatments to reduce inflammation of the glands when they have swollen. Here we mention a list of some remedies that can help reduce inflammation of the lymph nodes.

  • Cayenne: the consumption of this plant in infusion helps to reduce inflammation of the lymph nodes.
  • Ginger: ginger infusions help reduce inflammation of the glands thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Honey with lemon: it can be taken alone or made a hot infusion.

Conclusion about lymph nodes

Definitely the lymph nodes are of the utmost importance for our body, since their main function is to act as an immune defender. The human body is exposed to infections on a daily basis, and this is where the lymph nodes come into play.

They are there to defend us from viruses and some damages that may originate in our immune system. Without a doubt, the human body has a perfect design and thanks to these tiny parts of our body system we have better health.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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