What is Lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is a collection of fluid (called lymph) in a part of the body. It occurs either because there is too much fluid for a normal lymphatic system to process, or the lymphatic system just isn’t working properly. The lymphatic system is a super important part of our body, with many jobs, one of those being to drain excess fluid from around our cells, and eventually return it back to our blood circulation.
There are 2 general types of lymphoedema, primary and secondary.
A diagnosis of lymphoedema
will usually come from a doctor who specialises in lymphatic disorders. Your GP
can refer you to a specialist (or specialist centre) for some tests either
privately or via the NHS, which will likely then be followed by a referral to
your local lymphoedema practitioner to get you on the right treatment track. If
you’re not sure where your closest lymphoedema service is located, check out
the British Lymphology Society therapist directory here.
While lymphoedema is not curable at this time, there are plenty of things that can be done to manage it. I like to think of it like brushing your teeth or putting your trousers on before you leave the house (hopefully both…). We do these things, every single day, so that our teeth stay clean and we, er, don’t get arrested! They simply form part of our routine. Managing a chronic health condition, like lymphoedema, can certainty take some adjustment. Though by adding a thing or two to your normal routine, your lymphatic system will seriously thank you.
Blog post written by Lady Lymphoedema. Follow her on Instagram for more information and top tips around lymphoedema.
Read part 2 - What can I do to better manage my lymphoedema?