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Lymphedema After Breast Cancer Surgery

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How Can I Avoid Getting Lymphedema? continued...

If your normal exercise routine includes upper-body weight lifting, check with your doctor about the best time to get back to it as well as any weight restrictions.

Stop doing any exercise that gives you pain. And if your arm on the side where you had surgery becomes tired during exercise, cool down, then rest and elevate it.

Avoid Infections

  • Wear gloves while doing housework or gardening.
  • Avoid cutting your cuticles when manicuring your nails. Use care when cutting your toenails.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water often, especially before you prepare food, after you use the bathroom, or after you touch soiled linens or clothes.
  • Protect your skin from scratches, sores, burns, and other irritations that might lead to an infection. Use electric razors to remove hair, and replace the razor head frequently.
  • Use insect repellents to prevent bug bites.

If you think have an infection, tell your doctor right away.

Stay alert for these warning signs of infection:

  • Fever over 100.4 degrees F
  • Sweats or chills
  • Skin rash
  • Pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling
  • A wound or cut that won't heal
  • Red, warm, or draining sore
  • Sore throat, scratchy throat, or pain when swallowing
  • Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches, or tenderness along upper cheekbones
  • Persistent dry or moist cough that lasts more than 2 days
  • White patches in your mouth or on your tongue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, aches, headache, or fatigue) or generally feeling "lousy"
  • Trouble peeing: pain or burning, constant urge, or needing to go often
  • Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine

Don’t wear tight clothing, shoes, or jewelry.

You should wear well-fitted bras. The straps shouldn’t be too tight, avoid underwires, and wear pads under the bra straps if necessary. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and avoid tight hosiery. Wear watches or jewelry loosely, if at all, on the affected arm.

Don’t do any heavy lifting with the affected arm.

Avoid repetitive movements of the affected arm (such as scrubbing, pushing, or pulling). Don’t carry a purse or bag on the side where you had surgery.

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