As Colder Weather Approaches, I Must Be Mindful of Triggers
Well, summer in the U.K. seemed to last all of 2 seconds. Now we are back to colder weather, shorter days, and higher heating bills.
As the colder seasons arrive, those of us with sickle cell disease need to be more intentional about looking after ourselves. The cold may expose us to more triggers, which can lead to a crisis or other sickle cell-related complications.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not yet a thing of the past, and colder weather tends to bring an increase in viral infections, such as the common cold and influenza. We must do what we can to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting an infection.
I plan to do this by ensuring I’m eating a balanced diet. I’ll include foods like citrus fruits and kale, which are high in vitamin C, to support the function of my immune system.
Although it’s no longer required in public spaces here, I still intend to wear a face mask. This will help reduce the chances of catching or spreading infections. I also intend to socially distance when I can, and avoid unnecessary contact with other people.
The cold is a known trigger of sickle cell crises. Our bodies naturally react to the cold by triggering mechanisms that preserve body heat in a process called thermoregulation. During this process, the blood vessels constrict, allowing less blood to flow through the skin. However, when this happens, it makes it even harder for a sickle cell patient’s blood to flow properly, and increases the chances of a crisis occurring. It’s important that we do what we can to stay warm.
I always say that I’d rather be too cold than too hot, and I stand by my statement, simply because I find it easier to warm myself up than to cool myself down. To stay warm, I make sure to wear warm clothing (99% of the clothes in my wardrobe are jumpers), I drink hot beverages, and I minimize my exposure to extremely cold weather. Unfortunately, that means no snowball fights in my near future.
If you have sickle cell, what changes do you make as the colder seasons approach? I would love to hear your tips and tricks 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.