How does lupus affect your lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is part of the bodies immune system, responsible for protecting the body from illness. Within this system, we have over 600 lymph nodes located across the whole body. This is just one element of the lymphatic system; however, it is very important – playing a key part in both autoimmunity and immunity. The other elements include:


  • Bone marrow

  • Thymus

  • Spleen

  • Tonsils

  • Peyer’s patches

  • Appendix



When people with lupus have a flare up, the lymph nodes can react and become swollen. The exact relation between the lymphatic system and lupus is unknown. However, for people with an autoimmune disease like lupus the lymphatic vessels may expand and contract more often than those in a healthy person. The lymph nodes are also over active. This can lead to excess swelling in the joints, leading to pain, which is one of the most common symptoms that patients with lupus report.


It is important to note that the lymphatic system is usually only over whelmed when the patient is going through a lupus flare up, when the symptoms are heightened. As the lymphatic system is so complex, there is still a lot more research that needs to be done to have a full understanding of how it actually works.


Research has shown that some autoimmune disease can cause people to have less lymph nodes and therefore put extra stress on the lymphatic system when they have a flare up. This can lead to blockages and therefore result in the patient having ulcers and sores around the body.


So, what does it mean if you have swollen or tender lymph nodes? Swollen or tender lymph nodes can indicate that you body is fighting an illness or that you are having a lupus flare up. If you have swollen lymph nodes and you don’t not know what is causing it talk to your doctor to arrange a health check.


This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.


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