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Elephantitis

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Elephantiasis
Tricia Kalemba
ITT-Technical Institute

Elephantiasis is the abnormal enlargement of any part of the body. The most common is the lower limbs and genital area. According to the health Ministry, elephantiasis is one of the oldest and most paralyzing diseases in the world. It is the second biggest cause of disability after mental disorders. There are two main types of elephantiasis. These two are lymphatic filariasis and non- filarial. Lymphatic filariasis is the most common form. It is caused by the obstruction of the lymphatic system. It is transmitted from human to human via mosquitos. It’s contracted by the parasite worm larvae that live inside mosquitos. The worm attacks the human spleen system. Non-filarial elephantiasis cause is unknown but is not due to infection. It is thought to be caused by constant skin contact with volcanic ash which contains sulfur and other mineral deposits. It is very rare and extremely difficult to treat.

Elephantiasis is a difficult condition to diagnose in early stages. However, after it advances the symptoms are prominently observed. Such as severe swelling due to fluid accumulation called edema. The skin hardens and the lymph glands below the skin begins to swell up, causing body enlargement. The skin then undergoes hyperpigmentation and ulcers are seen on the skin. It is endemic in several African and south Asian countries. It affects 80 countries worldwide. Some complications if not caught early on are very painful to the enlarged area. It can cause damage to the lungs in the form of eosinophilia, characterized by a wheezing cough and fever. Prolonged elephantiasis can cause kidney failure. You can also become paralyzed in the specific area and not be able to live a normal life. (Elephantiasis, 2011)

Medications are not very effective in treating adult worms. The main medication used to treat elephantiasis is Diethylcarbamazin or DEC. This works by killing microfilariae as well as some adult worms. Unfortunately, within six months of treatment the adult worms always come back. The best way to control the condition or disease is by going on a Vata pacifying diet. Always eat warm foods and never let them reach room temperature. No dry foods, always use gravy or something to moisten it. Use little oil and food must be sweet, sour, never hot or spicy. Nuts are a must and plenty of salads with carrots, spinach and asparagus.

Some effective treatments and preventions are spraying to kill mosquitoes. Take antibiotics as prescribed to fight the infection. Give medication to kill microfilariae circulating in the blood. Apply pressure bandages to reduce swelling or surgically removed infected tissue. There is no effective cure for elephantiasis. Researchers are working on bringing out a powerful vaccine against the disease.

References
Ayushveda. (2011). Retrieved from Shleepada Jwana(elephantiasis): www.ayushveda.com/health/sheepada-jwana.html
Elephantiasis. (2011, April). Retrieved from Human Diseases and Conditions: www.humanillness.com/E-GA/Elephantiasis

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