Paratracheal Lymph Nodes

Conceptual artwork of lymph nodes in the neck (paratracheal) and down into the chest. SCIEPRO/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Paratracheal lymph nodes run along the sides of the trachea (windpipe) in the neck. These are the lymph nodes that often become swollen when one is sick with a sore throat or cold.  Swollen lymph nodes can also signal a more serious condition, like cancer.

What Does the Lymph System Do?

The human body has an elaborate system of vessels and nodes that move a fluid called lymph to the tissues in the body.

The lymph system is a major contributor to the body's immune system.  

Lymph fluid is made up of white blood cells and chyle, a fluid from the intestines that contains proteins and fats.  Lymph fluid brings various nutrients to tissue cells.  As it passes through lymph nodes, it filters out waste products like carbon dioxide and foreign materials like bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells.

There are hundreds of lymph nodes in clusters around the body, but under normal circumstances, they cannot be easily felt. However, when infection or a disease like cancer is present, they produce more white blood cells, causing them to swell.  If this is the first sign of illness, additional tests will be administered to pinpoint the problem.

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