Living a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but it’s even more important for those with sickle cell disease. Minor illnesses can quickly turn into a medical crisis so it’s important to monitor your health and know what your body can and cannot handle. People with sickle cell disease can live full lives and enjoy most of the activities that other people do. Use the following tips as a guideline for helping prevent crisis and living a healthy lifestyle. You can also download the Living Well With Sickle Cell Disease [pdf] tipsheet from the CDC to help you, or someone you know with sickle cell disease, stay as healthy as possible.
Tips on Living a Healthy Life with Sickle Cell Disease
Find good medical care – Sickle cell disease is a complex hereditary disease. Quality medical care takes a comprehensive team of doctors, nurses and health care professionals working together. Your doctor should have a thorough knowledge of sickle cell disease in order to help prevent serious problems with your health. Every person with sickle cell disease should have a hematologist and a primary care physician that knows the patient’s detailed medical history in order to provide the best medical care possible.
Make and keep doctor’s appointments – Consistent health check-ups with a primary care physician can help prevent serious health problems. Every doctor should be up-to-date on all of the patient’s health records, and every person with sickle cell should talk about any problems or pain they are experiencing.
Prevent infections – maintaining a healthy lifestyle starts with preventing infections. Keep up to date on all vaccines including the flu vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and any others recommended by a doctor. Take all medications, including penicillin, as prescribed by a doctor. Do not miss doses, and do not take more than recommended. Washing hands with soap and clean water is a simple and essential way to prevent infections.
Stay hydrated and eat healthy foods – It is critical that people with sickle cell disease stay hydrated at all times. Drinking 8 glasses of water each day is a good way to keep the body hydrated. Eating a balanced meal and making healthy choices is important for proper nutrition as well.
Avoid food bacteria – certain uncooked foods can carry harmful bacteria. Be sure to wash anything that comes into contact with contaminated food including hands, cutting boards, knives, counters, or any other utensil. Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them and cook meat until it’s well done.
Avoid extreme temperatures – Maintaining a balanced body temperature is very important, getting too hot or too cold can cause sickness. Be sure to wear layers to adapt to changing temperatures.
Avoid reptiles – the harmful bacteria Salmonella is present in some reptiles and is especially harmful to people with sickle cell disease. Children and adults should stay away from snakes, lizards and turtles.