Here are some things that help me manage my life with sickle cell disease:
- Hot-water bottle: This everyday item helps me to keep warm in general and provides comfort when I am experiencing a sickle cell crisis. Applying a hot-water bottle to a painful area helps to dilate the blood vessels, and promote better circulation. The heat is soothing and distracts me from the pain.
- Drinking water: I need to maintain a high daily water intake, and it is easier and more cost-effective to buy a plastic bottle that I can refill. I recommend one that is bisphenol A-free. Those with sickle cell are advised to drink 2 to 4 liters of water (about a half-gallon to a gallon) a day to stay hydrated, and carrying a bottle to sip from makes this target more manageable.
- Painkillers: Sickle cell is sneaky, and sometimes you don’t know when a crisis will strike. A sickle cell crisis has many potential triggers, including overexertion and extreme changes in temperature. Some of these things are within our control, but sometimes we’re unaware of possible triggers and before we know it, we are in pain. That’s why I always carry painkillers with me. If I’m away from home, I can start treating my pain. I keep paracetamol in my bag and take that first. If the pain does not ease, I move on to stronger, codeine-based medications. Consult your doctor to discuss the best pain relief options for you.
- Positive attitude: Managing sickle cell is incredibly trying, and many aspects of the disease can get you down. Take steps toward ensuring that your mental health is OK and try to stay positive. Studies have shown a correlation between a positive mental attitude and a faster recovery. If you are feeling upset, try to engage in activities that bring you joy, such as listening to music, speaking with friends, or watching your favorite TV show.
I would love to know if you have any other tips. Please share in the comments below.
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.