Your lymphatic system has multiple, interrelated functions for the body. For example, lymph vessels collect excess lymph fluids, which are proteins, lipids, and wastes, and remove them from tissues. The lymph nodes not only filter these interstitial fluids, but they also contain white blood cells and lymphocytes, which fight infections and illnesses. If these lymph vessels become blocked, the entire system is unable to get rid of the excess fluid and flow properly. This condition is known as lymphedema.
There are two types of lymphedema known as primary and secondary. The first is present at birth whereas the latter develops after the lymphatic system is damaged. The most common cause of lymphedema in the United States is breast cancer treatments such as radiation, but globally a parasite infection known as filariasis is the main culprit. There are four stages of lymphedema and no known cure. If you notice any of these ten symptoms of lymphedema, contact your doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
This is one of the earliest signs of lymphedema. During stage zero of lymphedema, the symptoms will develop slowly. The apparent symptom of swelling will not be present yet. However, the protein molecules that are not being filtered out properly will start to accumulate underneath your skin. Even though the limb looks presumably normal on the outside, the extra water will pull into the affected area and cause heaviness.
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