SICKLE CELL AWARENESS MONTH
“You are fierce , You’re a survivor, You’re a fighter through and through . Little brave, breathe. There is a warrior within you” – Beau Taplin
There are warriors amongst us, people who daily struggle for their lives and a chance to achieve their goals and purpose in life. People who didn’t choose their battle but have taken up the challenge anyway .These set of warriors are called the Sickle Cell warriors. The Sickle Cell warriors are individuals who live with a type of blood disorder that is inherited from their parents. Sickle Cell warriors are people living with the Sickle Cell Disease.
There is a need for people to be sensitized on the Sickle Cell Disease and it is for this reason that the month of September has been set aside as Sickle cell awareness month. This is to help create awareness of this disease and focus attention on the need for research and treatment of sickle cell disease.
In order to create awareness on Sickle Cell Disease we need to first understand what the Disease is.
DEFINITION OF SICKLE CELL DISEASE (SCD)
“Sickle cell disease is a severe hereditary form of anaemia in which a mutated form of haemoglobin distorts the red blood cells into a crescent shape at low oxygen levels”
What this means for people living with SDC is that; unlike normal red cells , which are usually smooth and malleable , the sickle red cells cannot squeeze through blood vessels , the organs are deprived of blood and oxygen . This leads to periodic episodes of pain and damages the vital organs.
Sickle cell is the most common inherited blood disorder . It is passed down through families. The gene for sickle cell anaemia is inherited from both parents for the illness to occur in children.
This article is not only to create awareness about the disease but to encourage individuals living with SCD. If you are living with SCD or have a family member living with the disease, it is important to learn as much about the disease, so you can help yourself or help them.
Below are Five (5) useful tips put together from the National Health Institute to help people living with SCD:
- A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
- A nourishing diet
- Enough sleep
- Regular physical activity
People living with SCD often tire easily so be careful to pace yourself and avoid very strenuous activity.
Do not smoke and try to avoid second hand smoke. If you drink, do so moderately and drink extra water to avoid dehydration.
- PREVENT COMPLICATIONS
Avoid situations that may set off a crisis such as extreme heat or cold, as well as abrupt changes in temperature.
Avoid overexertion and dehydration
Take time out to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Take your medicines as your doctor prescribes. Get any medical and lab tests or immunization that your doctor orders.
You should see a doctor right away if you have any of the following danger signs:
– Stroke symptoms
– Problem breathing
-Symptoms of splenic enlargement
-Sudden loss of vision
-Symptoms of severe anaemia
If your child attends day care, preschool or school , speak to his or her teacher about the disease.
- GET ONGOING CARE
Make and keep regular appointments with your doctor. This will help to reduce the number of acute problems that need immediate care. Avoid seeing your doctor only when you have an urgent problem.
- PAIN MANAGEMENT
Every individual experiences pain differently. Work with your doctor to develop a pain management plan that works for you. You can try other methods for pain:
- A heating pad
- A warm bath
- A massage
- Physical therapy
- Distracting and relaxing activities such as listening to music, phone conversations or watching TV.
- MENTAL HEALTH
Living with SCD can be very stressful. Sometimes you may feel sad or depressed. Talk to your doctor if you feel down. You can also try counselling or anti-depressant medicines, some people find it helpful.
You may also find that speaking to a psychiatrist or counsellor or participating in a support group is helpful. Family and friends should provide love and support to people with SDC. This can help relieve stress and sadness.
Managing SCD is not the easiest thing but I am sure we will find these tips very helpful.
In this month of September(and beyond) we encourage everyone to learn more about the disease, to please donate to charities and organizations that help fight this disease, volunteer their time to such groups and organizations, and donate blood to save lives.
Let us help our warriors by supporting them in their fight to stay alive.