Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling in the arms, legs or other parts of the body. It can affect both men and women and is often considered a chronic condition.
The swelling comes from a buildup of fluid that doesn’t move through your lymphatic system as it should. This is why people with lymphedema often have to wear compression garments on their arms or legs.
The good news is you can control your lymphedema by making some simple lifestyle changes. The Keck School of Medicine of USC, Department of Surgery also offers a wide range of surgical procedures that can help you reduce your lymphedema.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to reduce your risk of developing this condition:
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise isn’t just good for your physical health; it’s also good for your mental health. Studies show that people who exercise regularly have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who don’t exercise at all or just do it occasionally.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
The foods you eat affect every part of your body including your skin, bones, intestines, and heart function. Eating too much red meat, processed foods and sugar increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — all of which can contribute to lymphedema development over time if left untreated.
3. Avoid Compression Garments
Compression garments can make lymphedema worse by increasing swelling, especially if they’re too tight or worn for too long at a time (more than 8 hours per day).
You should wear compression garments only when instructed by your doctor or therapist or when being treated for edema caused by surgery or another medical condition (such as congestive heart failure).
4. Drink plenty of water
Water helps keep the lymphatic vessels clear so that waste products can pass through easily without clogging up the system. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day to keep your lymphatic system healthy and functioning properly.
There are many treatment choices for lymphedema and many reputable physicians who specialize in treating this condition. If you have lymphedema caused by breast cancer surgery or other types of cancer surgery that resulted in removal of lymph nodes and/or radiation to arms and/or breasts, we at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Department of Surgery can help you achieve the best possible results with conservative and sometimes surgical treatment, while optimizing your outcomes.
Call the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Department of Surgery today at 323-442-0416 for your consultation!