This Is What Happens When You Have Elephantiasis, And It's Completely Awful

OCTOBER 16, 2016  —  By Corinne Sanders

There is a whole plethora of painful and uncomfortable physical conditions out there, but elephantiasis is definitely one of the worst.

A symptom of various diseases, it causes a person's body parts such as their legs, arms, or even genitals to swell to extreme proportions.

Here are a few of the diseases that have this horrible symptom.

1. Lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis tropica, is most common in Africa and Asia, where infected mosquitoes spread parasitic worms called filarial nematodes through their bites.

The worms then make their way to the lymphatic system, where they can cause blockages that result in fluid retention and massive tissue swelling. Antibiotics can stop the worms from reproducing, but it can take a couple of years for them to die out. There isn't much surgery can do except to excise the swellings, but they can just come right back.

2. Elephantiasis nostras is similar to lymphatic filariasis, but it is caused by chronic lymphedema instead of worms. This means that the lymphatic system cannot properly drain fluids, resulting in excessive swelling and wart-like areas on the lower legs or scrotum.

If it isn't treated with antibiotics, compression, and elevation, it can lead to a lot of pain and even immobility.

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3. Perhaps the most well-known disease associated with elephantiasis is Proteus syndrome, the genetic disorder that Joseph Merrick, or the "Elephant Man," lived with.

It is a rare genetic mutation that causes skin overgrowth, unusual bone development, and tumors covering over half of a person's body. The large, heavy limbs can lead to early death, arthritis, and of course, difficultly interacting with other people.

This sure puts things in perspective. The next time I feel like complaining about the zits on my face, I'll remember all the suffering that people with this condition have to go through on a daily basis.


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