Lifestyle changes will not cure sickle cell disease. However, they may reduce the number and severity of sickle cell crises.
Healthy foods can help your overall health. It can make your body better at fighting infections. Folic acid is very important in making red blood cells. This may reduce the impact of anemia.
Low levels of fluid in the body make it easier for blood cells to clump together. This can lead to sickle cell crisis. Aim for at least 8 full glasses of water each day.
Physical activity is important for overall health and energy. But strenuous activity can be dangerous. It can lower the amount of oxygen that is available in your body. This can increase the risk of a sickle cell crisis. Talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise is best for you.
All bodies need time to rest and recover. It will help you stay as healthy as possible.
Keep in touch with your medical care team. Ask about which symptoms should prompt a call to the doctor. Be sure to seek medical attention for a fever of 101°F (38.5°C) or greater.
A crisis will lower the amount of oxygen that is available to your body. Being active will increase your need for oxygen. Combined they can lower the oxygen for your organs. This can lead to permanent tissue damage.
Bed rest during an acute sickle cell crisis can reduce this risk.
Physical and emotional stress both seem to trigger acute sickle cell crisis. Look for steps to avoid this type of stress. Learn about steps that may help you relax.
Chronic diseases can be very stressful. Support groups can be very helpful. You may learn or share coping strategies with others who also have sickle cell disease.
Factors that can start or worsen a crisis include:
Salmonella is a bacteria known to make people ill. It can be more harmful in people with sickle cell disease. To decrease your risk of exposure to salmonella:
Complications and treatments. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/treatments.html. Updated August 31, 2016. Accessed December 13, 2016.
How is sickle cell disease treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/treatment. Updated August 2, 2016. Accessed December 13, 2016.
Living with sickle cell disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/livingwith. Updated August 2, 2016. Accessed December 13, 2016.
Sickle cell disease. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sickle-cell-anemia.html. Updated September 2012. Accessed July 1, 2013.
Sickle cell disease in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902929/Sickle-cell-disease-in-adults-and-adolescents. Updated October 4, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Sickle cell disease in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902928/Sickle-cell-disease-in-infants-and-children. Updated September 20, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2017 by Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 7/11/2018