Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling of the limbs(edema). It usually affects one of the arms or legs. In some cases, both arms or both legs can be affected.
The lymphatic system is a part of your circulatory system and plays a key role in regulating immune function. This disease is incurable, but with the right treatment, it can be controlled.
The disease is caused by mutations in some of the genes involved in the development of the lymphatic system. This prevents the body from draining excess fluid properly
Another cause is cancer surgery. Cancer surgery: Sometimes surgeons remove lymph nodes to stop the spread of the disease. This weakens the immune system and reduces the ability to excrete excess water from the body.
While radiation therapy destroys cancerous tissue, it can also damage nearby healthy tissue, such as the lymphatic system– this can result in lymphedema.
Other causes include severe infections such as cellulitis, inflammation, heart disease, and any trauma that causes excessive scarring. In all of these cases, the immune system is weakened, increasing the risk of lymphedema.
- Symptoms include
- swelling of either a part or the whole leg or arm
- swelling in the head or neck
- recurring skin infections
- thickening and hardening of the skin
- blisters or wart-like growths on the skin
- severe fatigue
There is, unfortunately, no cure for lymphedema. Treatments focus on reducing swelling, controlling the pain, and maintaining a healthy diet.
Doctors recommend wearing compression garments to control the swelling and exercise regularly. It’s also important to reduce stress and get adequate rest.
It’s important to immediately take care of cuts and cracked skin to avoid infections. Infections that are not treated quickly can lead to cellulitis, a very dangerous bacterial infection.
Two therapies that are recommended are physical therapy and massage therapy.