Talk show host and radio personality Wendy Williams revealed on Monday that she was recently diagnosed with lymphoedema. The diagnosis comes on top of her previous diagnosis of Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. The spirited TV host is taking it all in stride and making the best of things in spite of her health struggles. She has been just as sassy as ever, and if necessary she could take time off to focus on her health just as she did earlier this year.
While all of Wendy’s fans rushed to offer their support and positive thoughts, many were left wanting more information on lymphoedema. What is it? What causes it? Who is most at risk? Find out more about lymphoedema below:
What Is Lymphoedema?
Also known as lymphedema, lymphoedema is a chronic condition that causes swelling in the extremities. For this reason, Wendy has been seen recently with swollen ankles and is now using a medical device to reduce this swelling. Lymphoedema occurs when an individual’s lymphatic system is compromised. This can be due to damaged lymph nodes or lymph nodes that have been removed. This clocks proper drainage in the lymphatic system and leads to swelling of the arms and legs – more often the legs.
Anyone can potentially develop lymphoedema, if the following risk factors are at play:
- Cancer or tumor, either growing in or near the lymph nodes
- Infection of the lymph nodes
- Cancer treatment, including radiation treatment
- Removal of lymph nodes as in case of cancer biopsies
- Damage to lymph nodes, for example, surgery of blood vessels
- Older age
- Obesity or being over weight
- Rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis
How Is Lymphoedema Treated?
There is no cure for lymphoedema. Treating the condition focuses on reducing swelling and managing discomfort. Compression bandages and stockings can help reduce swelling. Regular exercise can also help improve lymph drainage. Many patients, like Wendy herself, use devices that massage the affected limbs and improve lymph drainage.
Untreated lymphoedema can cause irreparable damage to the affected limb. However, if properly managed, lymphoedema itself is usually not serious or life threatening. It’s the underlying cause of the lymphoedema that usually comes with a more dire prognosis, such as lymphoedema caused by cancerous growths.