Edema: Best Remedies and Practices
Lymphedema or edema is a swelling caused by the body fluid called lymph having difficulty being transported. Instead, the lymph collects above all in the area between the skin and the muscles. Lymphedema is usually impossible to get rid of, but there is treatment that reduces the symptoms. It is most common to get lymphedema in the arms or legs. But you can also get lymphedema on the face, neck, chest and abdomen.
How do you tell an edema?
The first symptom is that the skin becomes thicker. You can often feel a tension in the skin when the edema is forming. Afterwards, it is common to see swelling, for example at the ankles or around the elbow. You can feel it tense and feel heavy in the body part. You can also get marks on the skin from tight clothing or jewelry.
Your mobility and strength in the body part may decrease if the edema spreads. It can also hurt and you can get skin problems. The risk also increases that you will get an infection in the swollen body part.
You need to be examined and receive treatment even if the swelling does not cause problems because it usually gets bigger without treatment. Fat and connective tissue may also form in the swollen body part if you have untreated lymphedema.
Diagnosing and treatment of Edema
The doctor performs a physical examination if you seek care because you have a swollen body part. If it turns out that you have lymphoedema, the doctor writes a referral to a clinic that specializes in lymphoedema.
Compression therapy is one way to treat lymphedema. Then special bandages or garments are used that can be pressed against the lymphedema. The increased pressure against the tissue causes the swelling to decrease. Such aids are usually called compression parts and have higher pressure than support stockings.
There are compression parts for both arms and legs with extra parts for hands and feet. The garments are available in several sizes, but can also be made to measure. Lymphedema on the trunk, head and genitals can also be treated with compression. It is important that you get compression garments that are adapted to you and your problems. Compression parts with too low pressure can cause swelling to increase and too high pressure can affect blood flow.
It is common to only wear the compression garments during the day, when the lymphatic system is more stressed. Some need to wear compression parts around the clock. It may feel awkward at first, but the parts usually make the swelling go down quickly.
When you use the compression garments, they stretch and the pressure decreases. The compression parts should therefore be washed by hand and dried every day so that they regain their pressure. The compression parts should also be replaced regularly. How often they need to be replaced depends on the type of lymphedema and how much they are worn.
Exercise can reduce the swelling
It’s good to exercise if you have edema, because it can reduce the swelling. Exercising blood circulation regularly helps the lymphatic and venous systems to transport the lymph away from the area of lymphedema.
Most often, the fluid volume increases immediately after exercise or heavy physical work. You may then become more swollen. But the swelling usually decreases within a day, even in the area where you have lymphedema, if you use compression garments.
You should take frequent breaks and move around if you sit still a lot. You who have edema in an arm need to make large movements with the arm. You who have lymphedema in your legs need to move them, for example by walking briskly or climbing stairs. Sometimes it can help to put your feet up high, for example on a table.
You may need to rest the swollen body part in an elevated position. For it to have a good effect, the rest should be for a longer period of time, for example when you sleep. How you should do it depends on which part of your body you have lymphedema.
Cleanse and lubricate the skin
It is important that you keep the skin of the lymphedema clean and soft to avoid cracks and infections in the skin. You can use an emollient skin cream available in online pharmacies or local drugstores without prescription. It is important that you receive treatment if you have fungal infections, eczema, wounds or allergic reactions on the skin. Contact a healthcare center if you have problems with this.
You might have noticed compression clothes like stockings and sleeves in the personal care section at Walmart or your local pharmacy and wondered what those were about. This kind of medical garments are used to fight edema in the limbs. Such and other products can be found online, usually for better prices, too: Canadian pharmacy or Amazon are just a few examples with great deals for products that help keeping edema at bay.
Clothes and shoes must not be too tight
Some people with lymphedema have difficulty finding clothes and shoes that fit. They may need tailored clothing or special shoes. It is important that you do not wear clothes that are tight. This can make it more difficult for the lymph fluid to be transported.
Lymphedema in the abdomen can make it difficult to take care of your hygiene. It can also affect sex life. Many rehabilitation centers have a sexologist who can give advice. You who have lymphedema in the mouth may also need to change your eating habits. Then a dietitian can give advice. You can contact occupational health care if you need help adapting your workplace or if you need changed work tasks