10 Facts You Need to Know about Lymphedema
The lymphatic system is vital to maintaining the health of your body. As lymph fluids move through the body, they collect viruses, bacteria and other harmful waste products that are then filtered out and flushed from the body. However, if the lymph system cannot properly drain, swelling can occur. Here are some little-known but important facts about lymphedema.
Lymphedema is Very Common
Although it is not as publicized as the widely recognized diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, Parkinson’s or Muscular Dystrophy, lymphedema and other diseases of the lymphatic system after more people than these well-known ailments combined.
But It’s Slow to be Diagnosed
It can take years for doctors to properly diagnose and treat lymphatic diseases because the spotlight is not on awareness as it is for other illnesses.
Programs Don’t Cover Treatment
Military Members Susceptible
Because lymphedema can be triggered by trauma, some of the most common sufferers are military men and women who have been injured in the field.
It Can Lead to Cellulitis
Patients with lymphedema usually see it manifested in swollen legs and arms, and a common result is a skin disease called cellulitis. Without treatment, this bacterial infection can quickly become life threatening.
Research is Valuable
What little research that has been done on lymphedema and other lymphatic diseases is helpful in investigating other ailments such as cancer, lupus, heart disease and diabetes. This is because the lymphatic system plays a role in the development of many diseases.
It’s Common in Certain Cancers
Breast cancer patients and survivors are likely to see swelling in their arms and legs. Any person who has had a type of cancer that involves removal of lymph nodes, particularly about the shoulders, is almost guaranteed to experience lymphedema.
Lymph System Transports Cancer
Part of the reason for researchers’ interest in the lymphatic system is because it is involved in the metastasis of cancer. The traveling lymph liquids are ideal transport of cancerous cells. Developing advance treatments for lymphatic diseases may prove instrumental in furthering treatments for cancer.
System Crucial in Fighting Infection
The importance of the healthy operation of the lymphatic system cannot be underestimated. Nearly everyone knows that swollen lymph nodes can be an indication of a pending infection.
Many Sufferers Worldwide
Millions of people worldwide suffer from a condition called elephantiasis, in which parts of the body swell to gigantic proportions as a result of a parasite that lives in the lymphatic system.