If one has to explain lymphedema in one word then it would be swelling. But the condition is not as simple as that. Lymph is a fluid that moves throughout your body. It removes waste products and carries them to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes then filter the fluid to get the impurities out of the body. The swelling is caused due to extra fluid that builds up in the tissue when the lymphatic system isn’t working the way it should. Some of the lymphedema causes are an infection in the lymph nodes, cancer, surgery or removal of the lymph node. Lymphedema can develop in any part of the body, it usually develops on the arms and legs. Those suffering from lymphedema experience swelling which can extend up to fingers or toes. The affected limb feels heavy and there may be limited movement, making it hard to exercise or do other activities.
If you or any of your family members have been diagnosed with lymphedema, here are some lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms of the condition:
- Maintain a healthy weight. There is a link between obesity and the development of lymphedema. The more overweight one is, the more the lymphatic system will struggle to filter the fluid. It is best to consult a doctor along with a dietician who can help you manage diet with nutrient-dense foods. It is best not to follow any of the fad diets which can restrict a particular group of food.
- Exercise regularly: Exercising is beneficial for everyone. However, those with lymphedema can benefit from an individualised exercise plan. A combination of flexibility and stretching exercises, strength training and aerobic exercise can not only help in maintaining a healthy weight but improve the lymph vessel activity. Yoga, aerobics and swimming are some of the many forms of exercise that you can be helpful.
- Ensure proper intake of protein: The body needs protein to remain healthy. Having too little protein can worsen existing lymphedema. Include an adequate amount of legumes, eggs, tofu, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products. However, do not have too much protein as it can cause too much waste to build, making it difficult for the kidneys to get rid of the extra waste. This would further lead to fluid retention. The recommended amount of daily dietary protein is 56 g for men and 46 g for women.
- Lower salt intake: Sodium is vital for several bodily functions be it blood pressure or fluid distribution. However, too much salt can cause the body to retain fluid which is not good for those with lymphedema. Consuming too much salt can make symptoms of lymphedema ike swelling worse. Sodium is quite high in processed foods and fast foods. It is best to avoid them. There are several food items like tomato sauces, canned meats, canned vegetables, processed cheese and biscuits do not taste salty doesn’t mean the sodium isn’t there.
Are you looking for treatment for lymphedema? We, at Avis Vascular Centre, offer complete treatment for lymphedema. We have some of the highly-qualified doctors on board. We offer laser treatment for lymphedema. The low-level laser is used to target cells in the lymphatic system. It reduces the amount of lymph fluid in the affected area. All our procedures are USFDA approved.