Elephantiasis : Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Elephantiasis ?

Elephantiasis is a disease which is characterized by the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, especially in the legs and male genitals. It also affects certain other body parts, such as theÿscrotum, to swell to the size of a basketball.
It is a rare disorder of the lymphatic system and is also called as Lymphatic filariasis.

Recovery Time

The recovery of the disease may take up to  3 months to a year after infection for the symptoms to clear up.


It is usually carried out by:
  • Detection of circulating filarial antigen or DNA in the blood
  • Peripheral blood eosinophilia count
  • Other indications:- elevated serum IgE, microscopic hematuria (urea in blood), and proteinuria (urea in protein)
  • Urine examination
  • Eye examination
  • Chest radiography
  • Ultrasonography

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is elephantiasis?
Elephantiasis a symptom of lymphatic filariasis is a disease that is characterized by the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, especially in the legs, male genitals.

Q2.  What are its symptoms?
  • Limb and genital swelling
  • Abnormal accumulation of watery fluid in the body tissues (edema) thereby causing severe swelling
  • Skin Rashes
  • Fever, chills and a general feeling of ill health (malaise)
  • Long, tumorous mass covered by thickened and ulcerated skin may develop between the thighs in females
  • Also, there may be an enlargement of the lymph nodes of the legs.
Q3.  What kind of diet is useful in this condition?
One should take a low-fat, high-protein diet
Fatty and spicy foods are to be avoided for the conditions to recover.

Q4.  What are the side effects of drugs used for elephatiasis?
Side effects include fever, chills, arthralgia, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Both the development and the severity of these reactions are directly related to the number of microfilariae circulating in the bloodstream. The adverse reactions may represent either an acute hypersensitivity reaction to the antigens being released by dead and dying parasites or any inflammatory reaction.

Q5.  Is any surgery required?
Associated Hydrocele has to be dealt surgically

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