by Helen McKay

Lymphoedema is a high protein oedema, caused by low output failure of the lymphatic system, resulting in swelling of the limbs, which may be mild or severe.

It may affect one, or several limbs and the abdomen.

Lymphoedema often causes patients to seek medical advice when:

  • they have trouble fitting into sleeves, pants legs, or shoes
  • they experience swelling and discomfort with watch straps, jewellry,
  • they feel heaviness and swelling in their limb(s) (causing mobility problems)
  • they suffer from fluid leakage from legs or arms (causing smelly feet and hands).

Lymphoedema is classified as either:

Primary (ideopathic) lymphoedema, which comes in three sub classes, according to age. You are born with this but it may not surface until later in life, or

Secondary lymphoedema, which results from:

  • Trauma, Surgery, Parasitic invasion,
  • Travel at high altitudes (airplane travel),
  • Radiation therapy following cancer surgery,
  • Standing on the feet for long periods,
  • Venopuncture, Blood – pressure cuffs,
  • Cuts, Bites and stings,
  • Non-essential surgery on the limb,
  • Temperature extremes,
  • Tight clothing and Tight jewelry.If you suffer from lymphoedema, good personal hygeine is essential, as infections, such as cellulitis and other infectious complications easily occur.I am a patient with lymphoedema in both legs, both arms and my abdomen.Regards, Helen McKay