Kerry Katona reveals she has lymphoedema: ’I need my legs drained’

CRAWLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Kerry Katona attends Shocktober Fest 2019 at Tully's Farm on October 04, 2019 in Crawley, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Kerry Katona has revealed she has been diagnosed with lymphoedema. (Getty Images)

Kerry Katona has given an update on her health after being diagnosed with the long-term chronic condition lymphoedema.

The 42-year-old star has discussed more about the condition, which causes swelling in the body's tissues, revealing that she has to have her legs drained and may also need to undergo an operation to help the swelling.

The former I'm A Celebrity winner detailed visiting a clinic in order to have a procedure known as lymphatic drainage – specialised massages to move fluid from the swollen areas into working lymph nodes, where it can be drained.

"I’ve been diagnosed with lymphoedema, where your body swells due to a build-up of lymph fluid," she told OK! magazine.

"I have it in my legs and I might have to be operated on. I’m hoping the drainage will be enough to help it."

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Katona isn't the only celebrity to discuss living with the chronic condition. Last year, Linda Nolan revealed how she has "learned to live" with lymphoedema, which she has experienced following cancer treatment.

"One thing, amongst countless other side effects that don’t get talked about enough, is lymphoedema," Nolan told the Express. "For the past 15 years, this is something that has plagued me and now it’s gotten worse – I now have it in my right arm."

The singer explained that in her case her lymph nodes were removed during her mastectomy and were infected – which then developed into lymphoedema.

She went on to reveal living with the condition has knocked her body confidence and left her with various health problems.

Stock picture of Linda Nolan who is living with lymphoedema. (Getty Images)
Linda Nolan has revealed she is living with lymphoedema, following treatment for cancer. (Getty Images)

What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a chronic health condition that causes a build-up of fluid and swelling in the body and is thought to affect more than 200,000 people in the UK.

The condition develops when the lymphatic system does not work properly. The lymphatic system is a network of channels and glands throughout the body that helps fight infection and remove excess fluid.

Watch: 'I've got the same condition as Linda Nolan – one of my legs is double size of the other'

According to the NHS, there are two main types of lymphoedema:

  • Primary lymphoedema – caused by faulty genes that affect the development of the lymphatic system; it can develop at any age, but usually starts during infancy, adolescence or early adulthood.

  • Secondary lymphoedema – caused by damage to the lymphatic system or problems with the movement and drainage of fluid in the lymphatic system; it can be the result of a cancer treatment, an infection, injury, inflammation of the limb, or a lack of limb movement.

While primary lymphoedema is rare and is thought to affect around one in every 6,000 people, secondary lymphoedema is more common.

Read more: Teenager suffers from lymphoedema, which causes one leg to swell to double the size

Woman rubbing legs (Getty Images)
Kerry Katona's condition can also cause a heavy aching feeling in the legs, among multiple other symptoms. (Getty Images)

Symptoms of lymphoedema

The main symptom of lymphoedema, according to the NHS, is swelling in all or part of a limb or another part of the body. It can be difficult to fit into clothes, and jewellery and watches can feel tight.

Other symptoms in an affected body part can include:

  • an aching, heavy feeling

  • difficulty with movement

  • repeated skin infections

  • hard, tight skin

  • folds developing in the skin

  • wart-like growths developing on the skin

  • fluid leaking through the skin

While the swelling may come and go initially, without treatment it will usually become more severe and persistent.

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Treatments for lymphoedema

While there is no cure for lymphoedema, it is usually possible to control the main symptoms using techniques to minimise fluid build-up and stimulate the flow of fluid through the lymphatic system.

The NHS says the recommended treatment for lymphoedema is decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT), which includes wearing compression garments, taking good care of your skin, moving and exercising regularly, having a healthy diet and lifestyle, and using specialised massage techniques.