Traveling with Lymphedema

flightThe holiday season is one of the busiest times for travel. If you have lymphedema, flying can be stressful. Changes in air pressure, the dry air on the flight, and restrictive seating can exacerbate lymphedema symptoms, but, with proper planning, you can minimize discomfort and swelling during and after your flight.  We’ve compiled some helpful tips (from NLN and breastcancer.org) for anyone traveling with lymphedema:

  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight. You can save money by packing an empty water bottle in your carry-on and filling it up in the airport once you’re through security. The air on airplanes is especially dry, so you will need to drink more water than usual.
  • Pack healthy snacks – Most airports sell a lot of unhealthy, salt- and preservative-filled foods that will dehydrate you. Avoid the hunt for healthy food and pack some vegetables or a granola bar, so you have something easily on hand when you get hungry. Remember – you’re allowed to bring food into the airport and onto your flight from home – just no liquids.
  • Get an aisle seat – If you’re drinking enough water, you’re going to need to head to the restroom at least a few times during your flight. Avoid awkward interactions with your neighbors and get that seat in the aisle.
  • Upgrade to a seat with more leg room – If you have lymphedema in your lower extremities, having a few extra inches of leg room can be incredibly helpful.
  • Move around as much as possible (another reason to get the aisle seat!) – Sitting for long periods of time will slow your circulation and allow fluid and blood to pool. Get up and walk the aisles if you can.  Pump your fists in the air every hour to make sure your arms get movement too.
  • If you have a connection between flights, take that opportunity to really stretch and walk around the airport as much as possible.
  • Pack light – lifting heavy luggage on your own can irritate LE in your arms and legs. Bags with shoulder straps can also cut off circulation in your upper body and increase swelling. Try to pack a light-weight, rolling suitcase to avoid these problems.
  • Last, but not least – wear your compression garments or bandages – The NLN recommends wearing at least 20-30 mmHg of compression for upper extremities and at least 30-40 mmHg for lower extremities. Put your compression garments on before you leave and keep them on for at least a few hours after you land. Talk to your doctor or therapist before you go to plan which garment is right for your trip. If you’re on an overnight flight, you might want to wear a night garment like Tribute instead of regular compression hosiery or armsleeves

Readers – do you have any other tips?

Photo courtesy of tudydamian.

Allergic to Nylon – Can I Wear Compression Stockings?

Dupont nylon advertisementTraditional compression stockings are available in a wide variety of fabric blends; cotton, wool, polyester, etc., but two fibers are always part of that blend… spandex and nylon.  So if you have a nylon allergy and have to wear compression, what are your options?

The Allegro Premium Italian Wool Sock is the only off-the-shelf compression sock we sell that is nylon-free. It contains graduated compression of 15-20 mmHg and is made from 53% cotton, 40% wool, and 7% spandex.

For individuals who require a higher level of compression or a stocking longer than a knee high, the best option will be short stretch bandages or a cotton liner with a compression stocking or compression wrap over top.

For individuals with a nylon allergy looking for a comfortable sock without compression, SmartKnit diabetic socks are made with polyester and spandex…no nylon.

Lastly, if you have a very mild nylon allergy, the Juzo 5760 Silver Sole may be an option. It only contains 5% nylon and comes in a low-cut, crew sock, and knee high lengths.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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Compression Sleeves or Daily MLD Massage for Lymphedema?

ISolidea Bilateral Armsleevesf you have lymphedema, you are most likely trying your best to get as much treatment as possible. For many, this is a combination of wearing compression garments (armsleeves and gauntlets) and meeting with a lymphedema therapist for manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) massage.

Treatment can be expensive, though, and many health insurance companies will not cover compression garments or MLD with therapists.  If you are struggling to afford both, there is good news. A new study suggests that compression sleeves, worn without any other treatment, works as well as as combining compression sleeves with lymphatic massage to decrease excess arm volume.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, followed two groups of women for a year. One group of women wore compression armsleeves and compression gauntlets for 12 hours a day. The other group of women wore the same armsleeves and gauntlets, but additionally met with a lymphedema therapist every day for one hour of manual lymphatic drainage.

Results show that the reduction in arm volume for both groups of women was similar. Women who wore only the compression garments saw a 23% reduction in volume, while women who used compression garments and had regular lymphatic massages saw a reduction of 29%. The difference between the groups was only a small 6%.

For more information please see Lymphedema Study and Compression bandages work as well for lymphedema as daily massage: study

Healthy Legs Recipe: Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

Roasted Vegetables RecipeToday’s recipe comes from Scott. Last night, he roasted up some winter vegetables from the local farmer’s market. He reports that this recipe is super easy and delicious (must be because I didn’t get to try any leftovers today!). And, all the vegetables he used are vein super-foods: beets, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Eating beets regularly can reduce blood pressure, increase circulation and prevent varicose veins.  Beets are rich with a compound called Betacyanin. Betacyanin naturally reduces homocysteine levels in the blood – homocysteine is an amino acid known to damage blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.

We all know that carrots are great for your eyes, but did you know that eating carrots can help improve your vein health too?  Carrots are rich in Vitamin C, which helps produce elastin and collagen, which in turn keep veins strong and toned.

Lastly – sweet potatoes can help with almost any ailment, from preventing arthritis, to regulating blood sugar, to aiding digestion. Vein doctors support regularly eating sweet potatoes because they are so rich in fiber. A healthy digestive system means less pressure on the vascular system.

Ingredients

  • 2 large size beets, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1/2 a large sweet potato or 1 small one, cubed
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut vegetables. Make sure to cut the sweet potatoes larger than the beets. Sweet potatoes cook faster than beets, so this will ensure that all the vegetables will be done at the same time.
  3. In a large bowl, add diced vegetables, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Mix until vegetables are all evenly coated.
  4. Add spiced vegetable mixture to a large roasting pan. Leave uncovered.
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  5. Place pan in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes. Stir halfway through. Vegetables will be done when you can easily put a fork through the carrots. Don’t be surprised if everything looks a bit pink in the end – the color from the beets will spread to the other veggies.
    roasted vegetables3
Recipe adapted from Healthy Connections. Pictures taken by Chef Scott.

Great Lymphedema Blogs and Communities

One of the greatest things about the internet is how you can find a community of people around the world who have shared interests or experiences. Lymphedema is a disease that affects millions of people globally, but it can feel isolating if you don’t know anyone who is managing the same symptoms and challenges.

Cue the wonders of the internet! There are tons of amazing women and men out there who are writing about their experiences with lymphedema online – these are great forums to join the conversation and make connections with women and men who understand your daily challenges. We wanted to share some of our favorite resources, so that anyone who is looking for a community can find one. If you have any suggestions, please share so we can add to our list.

My Lymph Node Transplant – Helen is documenting her journey through a lymphnode transplant to help lymphoedema in both legs. Helen shares stories from other women in addition to her own, as well as news and updates about lymphedema research.

Coping with Lymphedema – Lindsay is positive and honest and very active! She shares stories about her every day challenges and how she overcomes them.

Lymphedema Girl – Liz has Primary Lymphedema in one leg. She created her blog to “interact with other Lymphedema patients and share knowlege regarding treatment, self management and thoughts about living with Lymphedema.”

Lymphedema Diary – Britta was diagnosed with lymphedema in her leg over 15 years ago. She writes with honesty and humor, sharing her thoughts and recommendations on symptom management, every day life and more.

BreastCancer.org Discussion Boards – These boards are a great place to ask questions, find answers, and connect with other women with lymphedema related to breast cancer treatment.  Boards range in topic from “All Things Gloves and Sleeves” to “Important Links for Newbies.”

Lymphedema Community – Exactly what it sounds like! This site has over 1700 members connecting and discussing everything related to lymphedema. Members can post blog entries or stories directly to the community.

Anything I should add?

We of course want to be a resource for you as well. So, if you have questions about lymphedema products – we’re here to help.

By Brita @ BrightLife Direct
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Preventing Ankle Injuries with Ankle Braces

Mediven Ankle BraceHave you twisted or sprained your ankle before? If you have, you might want to consider wearing an ankle brace to prevent another injury.

Studies show that ankle sprain rates DOUBLE within two years following a sprain, and 50% of people who have sprained their ankle develop life-long ankle instability (from CPMC Physical Therapy Sports and Wellness).  I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t sprained their ankle once in their life – so that’s a lot of people walking around with weak ankles.

What can everyone do to prevent re-injury of their ankles? Well, studies show that wearing an ankle brace can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the chances of subsequent ankle injuries.

In Wisconsin, researchers gave out lace-up ankle braces to high school athletes to test brace effectiveness.  High school basketball players that wore the brace during practice and games had 68% fewer ankle injuries than those who did not wear the brace. Similarly, high school football players who participated in the study had 61% less injuries than their un-braced classmates (from University of Wisconsin).  These results are from young, healthy students – imagine the results with an older test group.

Now that we know ankle braces are effective for preventing injury, we need to understand what kind of brace is best for your lifestyle. There are two main categories of braces – the lace-up style and the stirrup style.

Lace-up braces add stability to both sides of the foot, as well as the front and back. This means that it will prevent sideways movement of the ankle as well as twisting. This style of brace is very helpful for athletes, like volleyball, tennis, basketball and football players who are more likely to twist the entire foot. If you watch volleyball games, almost all the players wear these lace up braces. This makes sense to me – a former high school volleyball player myself – I remember a handful of times where I jumped and landed on another player’s foot in my descent, twisting my ankle on the way down.

Stirrup style braces support the sides of the foot and will prevent sideways movement of the ankle. They are great for everyday use and can easily go unnoticed under a sock or in a shoe.

Another added feature you’ll see with ankle braces is compression.  Adding compression to your ankle brace is effective if you have swelling in your foot or ankle. The light compression will keep fluids and blood moving and prevent swelling from occurring.

If you have weak ankles or are suffering from a recent ankle injury, check out our selection of ankle braces, which include both lace-up braces and stirrup braces.

By Brita @ BrightLife Direct
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Sigvaris 191 Zurich Collection – Sea Island Cotton for Men – First Look

Sigvaris Zurich Sea Island Cotton Sock boxI received a sample of the Zurich Sea Island Cotton Socks Wednesday morning.  At the time I was wearing a sock I reviewed last week that wasn’t particularly comfortable.  Off they came, and on went the new Sigvaris.  It was love at first wear.

Fabric:  Sea Island Cotton is the highest quality cotton in the world, and the look and feel of this fabric makes that very evident.  These socks would look right at home in the sock department of Neiman Marcus.  The fabric is thin, with a very fine touch.  Most cotton support socks are thicker.

Foot:  Besides the fabric, this was the best part of the sock.  The foot is fitted, but not tight.  There is no toe seam.  Within 10 minutes of putting these on, I had completely forgotten about them… due to how comfortable they are, and not my bad memory.

The heel is a traditional reciprocated design.  I wear a 9.5 shoe, and a size B in this sock.  I did notice some pulling on the sides of the heel, where a little skin showed through.  This is normal with this type of heel.  Someone with a size 11 foot will see even more skin.

Leg: The leg portion, like the rest of the sock, was extremely comfortable.  Fresh out of the box, they did not slide down at all.  I’m 5’9” with a 17” leg, very average.  The length on the size B was perfect.  Someone with a long leg might find these to be a bit short.  The larger size C is longer.

Care: The care instructions say machine wash and air dry.  Do not iron, dry clean, or tumble dry.  I tumble dry all of my socks, and just took these out of the dryer.  They look beautiful and didn’t shrink at all in length.  I know what I’m wearing again today.  A word of caution… not following the manufacturer’s care instructions means your stockings won’t last as long.

Conclusion: In a moderate 15-20mmHg compression, this is one of the finest socks I have ever worn.  The new Zurich Collection also includes a merino wool sock for men and women.  Can’t wait to give them a try.

I’ll do a follow-up on the cotton in a few months to report how they wear over time.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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Bandages for Dyshidrotic Eczema

L_CoverRollStretch-largeWe recently had a customer tell us that our Cover-Roll Stretch Bandages were a life-saver in treating her dyshidrotic eczema. We love finding new uses for our products, so I thought I’d share this in case anyone is looking for an alternative to band aids in caring for dyshidrotic eczema.

When treating dyshidrotic eczema, doctors often recommend patients use an ointment or cream directly on the affected skin and then recommend covering the area with band aids or a similar product. The adhesive on band aids can actually irritate the affected skin, worsening the condition and causing pain.  That’s why the Cover-Roll Stretch Bandage is a safe and more comfortable alternative.

Cover-Roll Stretch by BSN Medical is a non-woven adhesive bandage that is air permeable, skin friendly, and very flexible. Wrapped around a body part or used as a patch, it conforms to the skin and will stay in place even during active, sweaty sport activities. Most importantly, it does not pull at the skin when removed. For treating eczema, you should put a layer of gauze over the open skin or blisters and then use the Cover-Roll Stretch over to hold it securely in place.

Cover-Roll is hypo-allergenic and 100% latex free. It can easily be cut to size to fit any area.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

By Brita @ BrightLife Direct
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