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What You Need To Know If You Have Swelling Legs

What You Need To Know If You Have Swelling Legs

It’s important to take care of your arms and legs. You don’t realize how important and useful they are until something goes wrong with them. Have you ever seen a person who has swelling legs or arms? This could be a case of lymphedema. Lymphedema occurs when fluids build up in the soft tissues because the lymph vessels are blocked, damaged, or removed by surgery. And when it is serious, infections can occur and may damage tissue around the lymph.

Lymph is the thin, clear fluid that circulates in the body to get rid of wastes, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid. So swelling legs and arms occur when too much lymph is collected in any area of the body.

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What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of lymphedema may include

  • swelling legs or arms
  • a full or heavy feeling in an arm or leg
  • a tight feeling in the skin
  • difficulty in moving a joint in the arm or leg
  • thickening of the skin (with or without skin changes such as blisters or warts)
  • a feeling of tightness (when wearing clothing, shoes, bracelets, watches, or rings)
  • itching of the legs or toes, a burning feeling in the legs
  • hard time sleeping
  • loss of hair

Types of lymphedema

Primary lymphedema is associated with genetic abnormalities in the lymphatic system. Secondary lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system mainly after going through surgery, trauma, radiation, or an infection. This is common for patients that are going through cancer treatments.

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For treating breast cancer, for example, many surgeries will have at least two or three lymph nodes removed from under the arm. Sometimes, radiation is also needed as part of the treatment. Both surgery and radiation can cut off or damage some of the nodes and vessels through which lymph moves. Over time, the flow of lymph can overwhelm the remaining pathways, which will result in lymphedema due to the backup of fluid into the body’s tissues.

How to prevent, manage and treat it

Preventive, management and treatment measures include maintaining clean skin and nails to prevent infection (use cream or lotion to keep the skin moist, treat small cuts or breaks in the skin with an antibacterial ointment, avoiding needle sticks of any type into the limb with lymphedema including blood tests and shots, using a thimble for sewing, using sunscreen and wearing slippers outside).

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Keep body fluids moving

You should also keep body fluids moving, especially through an affected limb or in areas where lymphedema may develop. To keep these fluid moving, do not cross legs while sitting, change your sitting position at least every 30 minutes, wear only loose jewelry and clothes without tight bands or elastic, do not carry handbags on the arm with lymphedema, do not use a blood pressure cuff on the arm with lymphedema, and do not use elastic bandages or stockings with tight bands.

Limbs should be raised higher than the heart when possible

The limb with lymphedema should also be raised higher than the heart when possible, and do not swing the limb quickly in circles or let the limb hang down, and do not apply heat to the limb. These can all make blood and fluid collect in the lower part of the arm or leg.

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Exercising

For exercising (light exercise and aerobic exercise help the lymph vessels move lymph out of the affected limb and decrease swelling), you should talk to your doctor before doing it. It is important to wear a pressure garment during all exercise if lymphedema has developed.

Treatments for lymphedema will depend on the severity of the condition. Treatments could be in the form of using sleeves, bandages, and pumps that can help lymph flow out of the arm, hand, trunk, or other body part affected by lymphedema. Others include skin protection and exercise and losing weight. You should contact your doctor at the first sign of lymphedema.

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Sarah Bonander

Writer, Human Resources Professional

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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