Known as lymphatic filariasis, filariasis is caused due to parasitic nematode worms, which are thread-like worms that are quite common in tropical countries. The filarial worms are usually transmitted via mosquitoes. Filariasis affects more than around 120 million people across the world.
Though filariasis is not fatal it is quite painful and it causes the collection of hydrocele or fluid and lymphoedema or the swelling of the subcutaneous layer of the skin which stores the fat. The urine becomes cloudy in color (chyluria) and when the disease becomes severe, the skin and the tissues of the legs and the scrotum start thickening and resemble the limbs of an elephant and the condition is known as elephantiasis.
Symptoms of Filariasis:
Usually, filariasis does not cause any symptoms immediately and the symptoms manifest only after a year or more. Some of the symptoms of filariasis are:
- Swelling of limbs.
- Swelling of genitals and breasts.
- Chills and fever.
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Thickening of tissues and skin.
- Skin rash with itching.
- Muscular and joint pain.
- Abdominal pain.
- Cracked thickened skin.
- Wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath.
If the condition becomes chronic or acute, it causes swelling which is extremely painful and can even lead to permanent disability.
Causes of Filariasis:
Usually, filariasis is caused when an infected mosquito bites you or if you come in contact with water in which the mosquitoes that are infected breed. The parasitic filarial worms burrow into your lymphatic system, which is a major component of your immune system, where they are transferred via the nodes and vessels that carry the lymph fluid to the blood and tissue.
The worms usually survive in the lymphatic system for around 4-6 years and the female filarial worms produce larvae which move in the body via the blood. The inflammation of the skin is caused due to the reaction of the immune system to the parasite and the lymph nodes, as well as the lymphatic vessels, begin to swell.
Dos for Filariasis:
- Wear full sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks and keep yourself protected from mosquito bites.
- Ensure that you maintain proper hygiene
- Maintain good hygiene around the area you live by removing all the garbage and preventing the collection of any stagnant water.
- Make use of mosquito repellents and mosquito nets.
- Wash the swollen areas properly every day with soap and water.
- Disinfect any wounds by applying antifungal and antibacterial
- Keep the swollen limbs elevated while sleeping to reduce swelling and to improve the lymph flow.
- Exercise your limbs in order to improve the lymph flow.
Don’ts for filariasis:
- Avoid exposure to the cold as it worsens the swelling.
- Avoid keeping your windows open at night while sleeping and avoid mosquito bites.
- Avoid all activities in the hours of dawn and dusk and restrict all your outdoor activities in the daytime when the sun is up.
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