What Is Lymphedema and What Should You Know About It?

What Is Lymphedema and What Should You Know About It?

What is Lymphedema?

This is a question many people ask; because they do not know any details about this medical problem. Lymphedema is basically an obstruction or blockage of the lymphatic vessels. This blockage can lead to the lymphatic fluid to get trapped inside the blocked vessels; subsequently leading to swelling and edema.

What is the significance of this blockage?

Lymphatic fluid performs 2 very important functions in the body. The first function is to drain the interstitial fluid that is received from the tissues. This removal of interstitial fluid helps to remove the unwanted waste matter and bye-products of any infection or disease within the tissues.

The second function of lymphatic fluid is to carry the immune cells and convey them to the lymph nodes. This helps to maintain the normal and effective control of the immune system.

When the Lymphedema leads to blockage of the circulation of this lymphatic fluid; it leads to problems with the normal drainage and immune response

What is Lymphedema caused by?

The causes of Lymphedema are quite diverse and are classified as Primary and Secondary causes. These are listed below:

Primary Causes:

• Genetic inheritance

• Familial tendency

Secondary Causes:

• Infections

• Burn injuries

• Trauma

• Cancer

• Radiation treatment for Cancer

• Filariasis

What are the risk factors of Lymphedema?

In addition to the above causes of this medical disorder; there are numerous factors that can aggravate the risk for either causing or worsening the incidence of Lymphedema. These risk factors are listed below:

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• Pregnancy

• Chronic and prolonged standing

• Obesity

• Over vigorous activity and intense exercises, especially those that involve the upper part of the body, and are done without using any compression tactics.

• Wearing excessively tight clothing

It is important to take all of these risk factors mentioned above in to consideration, when dealing with Lymphedema.

What is Lymphedema complication?

There could be more than complication that could arise, in a patient that is suffering from Lymphedema.

1) Infections

The incidence of infections rises drastically, due to the incomplete drainage of the lymph from the tissues. This not only leads to accumulation of wastes but also leads to proliferation (excessive growth) of any pathogens that may be present in the tissue; thus leading to infections.

In addition there is more chance for the pathogens to remain localized in one place and feed on the highly nutritious interstitial fluid. The blockage of the lymph also leads to inadequate immune system activity, thus helping infections to progress rapidly.

2) Lymphosarcoma

This is a kind of cancer that affects the soft tissues and can be a very dangerous complication of chronic Lymphedema. The characteristic sign of this complication is the appearance of bluish-red streaks on the skin over the affected part.

While Lymphedema is a medical disorder that does not have any permanent treatment; it can always be dealt with effectively by taking supportive measures. But if the supportive measures do not work; then the last option is to go in for surgical excision of the lymphatic tissue

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