sábado, 19 de marzo de 2022

WORLD ELEPHANTIASIS DAY 2022 - Lymphatic Vascular Disease


Despite effective treatment, lymphedema is still one of the world’s most neglected diseases, and people in many countries are shunned, denied basic human rights, and discriminated against. The burden associated with lymphedema Stage III (elephantiasis) affects the physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being of people, contributing to the cycle of disability, disfigurement (body deformities), and social stigmatization, poverty, and suffering.

World Elephantiasis Day is celebrated during Lymphedema Awareness Month and aims to raise awareness about diseases that affect the Lymphatic Vascular System, and teach people that it is easily treatable today. Lymphedema Stage III (elephantiasis) is not a rare condition, and many people in developing continue to suffer due to a lack of access to basic medical care. Read more information on what is the best treatment option for Lymphedema HERE.

The good news is that established lymphatic dysfunction is treatable. Like most other clinical conditions, diseases of the Circulatory System such as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) in Peripheral Vascular Disease, and Lymphedema (LE) in Lymphatic Vascular Disease, are more easily treated in their earliest stages. The goals of preventive treatment in diseases of the Vascular System, are to reduce the pooling of blood in venous disease, and the pooling of lymph fluid (dermal backflow) in lymphatic disease, thus preventing limb swelling, skin complications, and disease progression. 

Vascular medicine or vascular surgery specialists typically recommend a combination of preventive treatments for people with Venous Insufficiency and Lymphatic Dysfunction. Some of the simple basic daily self-care preventive treatment strategies include avoiding long periods of standing or sitting, exercising regularly, controlling weight, elevating limbs while sitting and lying down, wearing gradient Compression Garments, taking antibiotics as needed to treat skin infections, practicing good hygiene and skin care, and using adequate clothing and footwear

Education and improving access to health services are keys to the successful prevention of Lymphedema Stage III (elephantiasis). The First-line reduction strategy for patients with established lymphedema is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and compression (multilayer low-stretch bandages and gradient Compression Garments) are the cornerstones of therapy. People with lymphoedema need access to continuing care throughout their lives, both to manage the disease and to prevent infections like Cellulitis (Dermatolymphangioadenitis-DLA) and progression to more advanced stages like elephantiasis. Read more information on what country has the best treatment for lymphedema HERE.

Scientific studies highlight the importance and implications of compression therapy in controlling the progression of Lymphoedema. Clinical outcomes on interventions to manage lymphedema, show that simple hygiene-based measures (washing and elevation of limbs, exercise, use of footwear) are necessary, but these alone without compression are not enough to reduce the limb size and volume. Limb and genital Lymphedema should always be treated in their early stages, and not left undertreated till reaching its severe Stage III – elephantiasis. Read more information on what is the best treatment for the Elephantiasis Stage HERE.

With reference to Pediatric lymphedema, it is essential that children diagnosed with lymphatic dysfunction due to filariasis (Lymphatic Filariasis), which is also lymphedema, receive early preventive compression treatment with the first signs, to minimize fluid build-up and prevent later life severe clinical complications, disfigurement, and disability. Recent tests have revealed that LF is first acquired in childhood, often with as many as one-third of children infected before age 5. Prevention and controlling Early warning signs and symptoms are important since there is no cure.

Radical reductive ablative surgery (Charles Procedure), aimed to remove the diseased skin and subcutaneous tissue in Stage elephantiasis, should always be the last option for it is frequently associated with significant blood loss, morbidity, infections, permanent disfigurement, and recurrence of symptoms. Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is not limited to lymphoedema stages 0 and I, and even late Stage III lymphoedema (elephantiasis) improves greatly with good results in the majority of cases, with correct Compression Therapy and Garments, thus preventing the need for debulking techniques.

Lymphedema is a progressive disease, and early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. Therefore, it is critical to diagnose and treat both mild and early onset cases to halt the progression of this lifelong and often debilitating condition. During World Elephantiasis Day, we seek to increase public understanding of Lymphatic Vascular Diseases and tackle the social stigma and undertreatment attached to this treatable disease.


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