Lymphatic Filariasis, also known as Lymphedema, is an issue where swelling starts happening in the body’s tissues. This happens because of the accumulation of protein-rich fluid in your tissues which starts draining out of your lymphatic systems. The effect of this can be seen in your chest wall, neck, abdomen, genitals, and limbs.
Sometimes the severity of the infection increases and a person is unable to move the limb which is infected. The swelling increases to a greater extent in some cases, due to which issue is also known as Elephantiasis.
Symptoms of Elephantiasis
Following are the symptoms that might appear in your body when you are suffering from the issue of Lymphatic Filariasis–
- Swelling in your legs, arms, and genitals can be permanent because of extensive damage to the lymph.
- Your skin may become thick and stiff, which starts retaining fluid.
- In the body of females, the breasts start swelling up.
- Your body might frequently suffer from bacterial infections when suffering from this issue. That is the reason why physicians also start preventive doses of antibiotics when you have Filariasis.
- You might notice a feeling of heaviness in your body due to the roundworm.
- Your range of motion restricts when you are suffering from roundworm infections.
There is a fascinating fact about the symptoms of Filariasis. In some cases, the roundworms live in the body and never show any signs.
Causes of Lymphatic Filariasis
The leading cause of Lymphedema is a roundworm which is thread-like in structure. The name of the worm is Wuchereria bancrofti which accounts for 90% of cases of Filariasis. When this worm enters your body, it starts reaching out to the lymphatic vessels, which means that your body’s normal functions are entirely disrupted. The life of these parasites can be around 6-8 years; in their lifetime, they make millions of microfilariae. The parasite enters the body of a person through a mosquito bite.
The mosquitoes get it from biting other people who already have an infection. In the larvae stage, the worm enters the body of the mosquito, which transfers it to another person. Here the larvae reach the lymphatic system, derive their nutrition, and grow into adults who start laying eggs there. Culex, Anopheles, and Aedes mosquitoes can be potential carriers of the infection.
Apart from that, a person can suffer from similar symptoms of lymphatic Filariasis when they are suffering from issues of cancer or had surgery in which lymph nodes are removed from the body. People who are going through radiation therapy might also show such side effects.
How do we diagnose the issue of Elephantiasis?
Altho it is very simple to recognize the issue of Elephantiasis because of the body deformation it causes. Still, the physicians want to confirm that the issue you have in your body is due to Filariasis only and its strain. For this, the physician can perform a blood smear test. In this, a sample of your blood will be taken out during the night because the chances of the appearance of microfilariae, in this case, are high. Now they will check it under the microscope and look out for the type of infection in the body. Based on the observation, the physician will start your treatment with Ivermectin.
How to treat the issue of Lymphatic Filariasis?
Treating Issue With Ivermectin
To treat the issue of Lymphatic Filariasis, you should start the consumption of Ivermectin tablets. These are antiparasitic medicines that help in the treatment of a white range of roundworm infections. The FDA approves the drug for consumption but has few rules and regulations. Children who are below 15 kg weight and adults who have closed at the age of 65 are not safe to use the medicine. Apart from that, pregnant and nursing women, heart patients, etc. can also not use the medicine as it can harm their own and child’s body. Sach people should look for other treatments to eradicate the filariasis issue from their bodies.
The Ivermectin medicine is based on primary salt Ivermectin, which is available in different doses of Ivermectin 3 mg, Ivermectin 6mg, and Ivermectin 12 mg. The drug can take a few weeks to months to resolve the issue, depending on your body’s infestation level. When you start using the ivermectin medicine, it will locate the Filariasis in your body and enter your system. The first task it performs in the body is to block out the system of reproduction and multiplication. This way, our body gets a little bit of relief from symptoms because now they will stop multiplying in your body.
The following task medicines will perform is interfering in the nervous and muscular systems of the roundworm’s body. Due to this, they cannot perform any vital task for survival and dies eventually. You won’t notice results immediately when you start using the medicine. Some initial results will begin pouring within 4-5 days. After a few weeks, you will see relief in your symptoms, and the issue will completely resolve within a few months.
The physician is going to perform the task of deciding the correct dose for your body. For that, they will take your body weight, age, and range of infestation into consideration. According to the FDA, a person can use 200 mcg/kg of salt in one dose. The number of doses will depend on the severity of the lymphatic Filariasis. While you are using the medicine, undergo tests regularly to see if the issue is improving or not. Also, it would help if you stopped the medicine consumption only when your position asks you to do so.
Other Form Of Treatment
When the issue gets out of control, then the physician has to opt for surgery. In surgery, the physician is going to remove the swollen tissue and create drainage routes in the body. It will not let the lymphatic fluid stay in the tissues. After surgery, a person must go through compression bandages, massage, skincare, etc., to bring the body into regular activity.