LIVING WITH SICKLE CELL DISEASE (SCD)

Source: www.africanakua.com/ Dr. Olasemo Ayo Deji MaOzi, Nigeria

SCD is an inherited disorder in which the Red blood cell is abnormally shaped, can get stuck in blood vessels and block them resulting in sickle cell crisis.

Some things/ activities are encouraged to help make living with SCD more bearable.

 These are listed below:

1. Drink plenty of fluids; dehydration can increase the risk of a crisis, it is very important to take lots of water about 10-12 glasses daily (Drink more fluids if you are exercising or in hot weather).

2. Prevent Infections: common illnesses can be very serious for people with SCD. It is best to prevent infections by maintaining good hygiene.

3. Sleep: Always be well rested. Sleep deprivation causes stress which could result in crisis. Try to find techniques that help you relax and calm.

4. Exercise: Regular moderate exercise (walking, cycling or as advice by your physician) helps to prevent crisis. It is important to aim for about 2 hours of exercise per week. Always inform your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

5. Stay up-to-date on Vaccines (such as the meningococcal, pneumococal vaccines) .

Most importantly, Regular clinic visit is very crucial to maintaining an optimal health and take medications regularly.

THINGS TO AVOID

– Extremes of temperatures: too hot or cold weather could trigger crises and it is important to avoid such.

– High altitudes: lack of oxygen or reduced oxygen concentration at high altitude could trigger crises.

Planes on the other hand should not be a problem because oxygen (though pressurised), is availableim adequate amount.

– Alcohol intake: can lead to dehydrated

– Smoking: This can trigger a condition called Acute Chest Syndrome, which is when red blood cells stick together and block oxygen from getting into your lungs.

– Heavy Physical labor should be avoided as much as possible.

ROLE OF FRIENDS AND FAMILIES OF WARRIORS

– Detect signs of crises

– Provide support systems for them (when needed)

– Help with Pain relief ( this could be as simple as helping to massage or application of heating pads)

– Reach out to other support services (Social workers and mental health specialist)

NOTE:

“No man is an island entire of itself” (John Donne).

Keep relevant body informed about your friend or child’s condition so they can be appropriately taken care of.

It is also important to know that, no one has absolute control over how SCD affects the body but the pain/ complications can be managed (or even reduced) by following the steps listed above.

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