Living with Lymphoedema and/or Lipoedema
It’s Lymphoedema Awareness Week! What could be a better start to the week to take some time to learn more about lymphoedema & lymphatic conditions, to be a part of the movement to make a difference for the 250 million+ people worldwide who are living with lymphoedema.
Despite treatments being available to help people manage their lymphoedema, there are still a number of everyday challenges that people living with the condition must face. These challenges should not be underestimated and are often only truly understood by those living with lymphatic conditions. It can be difficult for sufferers to complete everyday tasks, for example, a swollen hand can hinder the simplest of movements; from opening a jar to writing a shopping list or even getting dressed in the morning.
Swelling is the most immediate symptom that occurs, which is caused by the build-up of lymph fluid. Further symptoms include heaviness, aching and general discomfort in the area affected by lymphoedema. Lipoedema symptoms present similarly, including pain and being easily bruised in the lipoedema fat areas of the body. Also, over time the lymph system struggles to cope in that specific area and fails to drain the area of excess fluid efficiently. This is often then re-classified as Lipo-lymphoedema.
If lymph drainage is put under stress, such as during periods of prolonged inactivity such as long-haul flights, the symptoms often deteriorate and become more pronounced. For that reason, avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity is essential to counteract this problem. Keeping moving is essential to keep the lymph fluid flowing.
However, this isn’t always possible and is hindered by a range of external factors. Due to the lack of awareness on lymphatic conditions around the world, most significantly of which being the lack of knowledge and training in a medical setting, often people find themselves with a misdiagnosis, or a complete lack of medical diagnosis (for more information on raising awareness, click here).
In these circumstances it is inevitable that symptoms will worsens. When this occurs, it can cause changes take place which make the skin thicker. The worse the swelling, and the longer it has been allowed to progress, the worst the skin can become. Additionally, because the lymph system is responsible for removing waste products from the body’s tissues, when it is not working properly it can affect other aspects of one’s health. This includes a great risk of raised blood pressure, due to impairment in the maintenance of body fluid balance, as well as greater risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, living with the symptoms of lymphoedema and other lymphatic conditions can really put a strain on the individual’s quality of life. People have reported various psychosocial impacts, such as a poor sense of body image, social isolation, social embarrassment, the abandoning of once-loved activities, financial concerns and more, which are just as difficult as the physical symptoms to deal with. Many individuals live with general level of fear when carrying out normal social situations that others take for granted, including participation in physical activity.
Here at LymphActiv, we believe that quality of life is just as important as quantity of life. The most important step to help those suffering with lymphatic conditions is to raise awareness: that’s what Lymphoedema Awareness Week is all about!
We are here to increase awareness of the powerful tool that is physical activity; in the case of lymphoedema and other related conditions, it provides both physical and mental health benefits that outshines all other medicines. Our aim is to empower all people to find the activities that they love and to take charge of their own health, to alleviate symptoms and live a better quality of life.
The LymphActiv Team