Sickle cell anaemia is a disorder of the blood cells which makes the carrier’s red blood cells develop in a sickle shape. Sickle cell disease is a genetic mutation of the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the red blood cells which makes it rigid and misshapen. This disease is predominant in sub-Saharan Africa (80%), and among people of African origin.
In sub-saharan Africa, a great number of sufferers have a life-expectancy of less than twenty years of age, with a good number of them dying at infancy or early childhood. These deaths are sometimes avoidable and due to terrible living standards and lack of access to good healthcare.
While sickle cell can and should be avoided by all means, it is in no way a death sentence to sufferers if well managed. Below are some steps which can help to manage sickle cell sufficiently and improving the quality of life for sicklers. Though these steps can and aren’t proffered as a cure, we hope it can help increase the awareness and alleviate the pain suffered due to sickle cell anaemia.
Dealing With Sickle Cell Disease
Hydration is key
When dealing with sickle cell anaemia, the debilitating pain that comes from suffering a crisis can not be described sufficiently to people who aren’t carriers. As someone described, it is like multiple dagger stabs at one. These pains are often due to blockage of blood vessels due to the abnormally shaped red blood cells. Staying hydrated increases the mobility of the ions and vessels and helps to prevent crises and alleviate the pains.
Avoid the sun
The sun is a major factor in Africa and can easily weaken the already frail defenses of a Sickler. The heat could also increase the chances of dehydration which worsens the possibility of a crisis. Avoid any type of extreme weather or temperature change.
Hygiene In every aspect, maintaining good hygiene is very important. Sickle cell makes people more susceptible to infections. In order to avoid this make sure you wash hands as often as possible. Avoid fruits and vegetables that might be slightly spoilt or rotten. Ensure food is prepared in adequate sanitary conditions and avoid foods that might be contaminated. Eat fresh foods only as much as you can. And if exposed to a hospital or other such place take care to keep from getting near infectious people.
Do not stress yourself
Over-exertion physically, mentally or in whatever way is terrible for a Sickler. On the journey to managing this condition better, you need to know when you are getting to a dangerous limit of stress and take a break. Know your stressors and know your limits
There are a lot of medications available now to help prevent the possibility of strokes and crisis in sickle cell sufferers. Hydroxyurea is one highly prescribed drug that seems quite effective. Folic acid is also prescribed for Sicklers to live healthier. As much as taking so many meds could be frustrating, your well being takes precedence. It is much easier to pop a few pills a day than to suffer crippling pain for days.
But only in moderation. Physical exercise is key to staying healthy. Mild exercises such as walking or biking can help you to keep fit without getting over-exerted. Consult you physician before starting any strenuous activities though.
Do not smoke or drink
Drinking dehydrates you and leaves you more susceptible to crises. The smoking part is even worse. Smoking has the ability to trigger acute chest syndrome. Sickle cells stuck together tend to block oxygen flow in the lungs. Please, by all means, all sickle cell sufferers should avoid smoke.
- Avoid staying too long in altitudes that are low in oxygen. An absence or too low oxygen can result in a crisis.
Fruits and vegetables should abound in a sufferer’s diet. Over-processed foods should be avoided as they add very little nutritional value to the body. ALSO READ: FIRST SUCCESSFUL CURE OF SICKLE CELL RECORDED IN FRANCE
Figure out your triggers
Certain situations act as triggers. If an individual can study the conditions they were subjected to just prior to a crisis it can help in future prevention. When a sufferer has any sudden pains they can try to figure out the cause and avoid them or mitigate the effects in future.
Stay connected to your doctor
A well-trained and experienced doctor is an important asset to have. Befriend a physician and see a specialist as often as you can. Maintain your hospital appointments even when feeling tip-top shape. You can detect early signs of a breakdown or possible infections and address them before they happen.