Top ten tips for managing Lymphoedema

Sometimes, living with Lymphoedema can feel like an uphill struggle and you won’t always be able to stick 100% to the plan given by your care provider. Approach your condition as a sum of all parts. Every little positive thing you do, no matter how small, contributes to your overall well-being. Here are a few top tips to help you enjoy life while managing your symptoms:

1. Maintain a healthy weight

The more fat your body has, the more the lymphatic system will struggle. Keep a daily food diary to ensure you’re eating a good mix of nutrient rich foods. It is important to keep your weight under control.  BMI calculator here? 

2. Exercise regularly

Exercise helps your circulation, gets your muscle and joints moving, which gets lymph fluid moving around your body. Walking, swimming and stretching exercises, like yoga, can be good choices. Always consult your care provider before starting anything new.

3.Keep up with compression

Compression therapy only works if the right product is used as recommended, which can be easier said than done. Get support from your care provider if you’re finding the treatment plan difficult and they will work with you to make sure it fits in with your everyday life. The more you keep up with compression, the easier it is to manage your condition.

4.Seek advice about diuretics

Diuretics, also known as water pills, are prescribed for many medical conditions but they can actually sometimes make your symptoms worse.  Diuretics are not a proper treatment for Lymphoedema. If you are on water pills for your swelling, talk to your care provider and get advice about whether to continue taking them.   

5. Look after your skin

Good skincare is the cornerstone of infection control. Cleanse the swollen area daily with an un-fragranced soap substitute and be sure to dry off thoroughly to keep skin healthy. Any skin folds should be cleaned and dried thoroughly.  A moisturising lotion will help to lock in moisture and keep skin hydrated.

6. Protect against infection

If there’s a risk of scratches, cuts or bites to any of the affected limbs, always wear protective clothing.  Something as simple as wearing gardening gloves or insect repellent can protect you from potential infections.

7. Try Lymph massage

Have your care provider teach you Manual Lymphatic Massage, specific to your swelling, so you can assist your lymphatic fluid moving.

8. Learn about your condition

There are many good sources of information to help you learn about your condition. As well as offline and online patient support groups, organizations such as the National Lymphoedema Network provide expert education and guidance for patients. You may even find lymphedema support groups at your local hospitals.

9. Elevate when sitting

Try not to sit or stand in one position for too long and, when you are sitting, elevate your affected limbs. This will help relieve the heavy, aching sensation you feel at the end of a long day. If you are sitting for long periods pump your feet up and down.

10. Be kind to yourself

Remember, you’ll have good days and bad. Don’t be too hard on yourself and make time to enjoy the things that make you feel happy. Taking care of your mind is as important as taking care of your body.