Sickle cell disease, SCD, is a genetic disorder of the oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells, haemoglobin of the blood due to a substitution. This results in the deformation of the red blood cells.
When oxygen supply is low, they change from a doughnut shape to a sickle-like rigid form that blocks the flow of blood to vital organs, causing damage to body tissues.
It is strongly advised that carriers of the trait avoid making children to prevent sickle cell disease. However, some people have already been born with the disease and the way forward for them is a hitch-free world so they can live to the best of their capabilities with no hassles.
To promote better health and wellbeing for people living with Sickle Cell Disease, the following would be important;
- Be in contact with your healthcare team: People with Sickle Cell Disease need to schedule regular doctor appointments to monitor their health, as opposed to only when there's a problem. It can be tedious and tiring but it assures better health and a better life.
- Educate yourself: People living with Sickle Cell Disease and those around them need to be as educated as possible on the disease itself. Read as much as you can on the disease and what to do in an occurrence of a crisis or any other situation that might require urgent attention.
- Avoid any form of stress: People with SCD need to avoid stressful situations as much as they can. This is much easier said than done, but it is important to try as much as possible to avoid unnecessary stress.
- Rest: The need for enough rest cannot be overemphasized. It is important to give proper room for rest to avoid the occurrence of crisis and promote a better life.
- Eat healthily: It is very important to eat as healthy as possible. Eat all the right stuff and avoid all the wrong ones. Eat more vegetables, fruits and water-based foods such as watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, green cabbage, e.t.c.
- Drink water: Hydration is another very important thing for people with SCD. The best way to do this is by drinking 4-6 liters of water a day. For people with Sickle Cell Disease, if your urine is dark yellow, you are dehydrated and this drastically increases the chance of a crisis of getting sick. Ideally, your urine should be light yellow or even preferably, clear and it is important to remain hydrated for a better life.
- Avoid caffeine: The reason is simple; caffeine causes blood vessels to constrict and this restricts blood flow. People with Sickle Cell Disease need blood flow to be as unrestricted as possible.
- Exercise: This is also vital for better health. Nothing too heavy or serious, just light cardio and other things (if you’re up for it) would promote better blood flow to tissues and prevent tissue damage.
- Pay attention to your mental health: The state of mind goes a long way to affect the health and well-being of an individual. Expect the very best of yourself and your health. Look at yourself as someone who can do and get anything you want, including living a full, rewarding life and not as someone who is limited by a disease.
The incorporation of these small but important changes would in one way or the other, ensure a better life for people living with Sickle Cell Disease.