Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Taking steps to stay healthy may help you avoid complications of sickle cell anemia. If you or your child has sickle cell anemia, follow these suggestions to help stay healthy:
- Take folic acid supplements daily, and choose a healthy diet. Bone marrow needs folic acid and other vitamins to make new red blood cells. Your doctor may recommend a folic acid supplement. You can increase the number of vitamins you eat each day by choosing a diet that focuses on a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can increase your risk of a sickle cell crisis. Drink water throughout your day. Increase the amount of water you drink if you exercise or spend time in a hot, dry climate.
- Avoid temperature extremes. Exposure to extreme heat or cold can increase your risk of a sickle cell crisis.
- Reduce stress. A sickle cell crisis can occur as a result of stress.
- Exercise regularly, but don't overdo it. Talk with your doctor about how much exercise is right for you.
- Use over-the-counter medications with caution. Some medications, such as the decongestant pseudoephedrine, can constrict your blood vessels and make it harder for the sickle cells to move through freely.
- Fly on airplanes with pressurized cabins. Unpressurized aircraft cabins may not provide enough oxygen. Low oxygen levels can trigger a sickle crisis.
- Plan ahead when traveling to high-altitude areas. There is less oxygen at higher altitudes, so you may require supplemental oxygen to avoid triggering a sickle cell crisis. Meet with your doctor before your trip to discuss the risks of traveling to a high-altitude area.
- Saunthararajah Y, et al. Sickle cell disease: Clinical features and management. In: Hoffman R, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06715-0..X5001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06715-0&uniqId=230100505-56. Accessed Jan. 24, 2011.
- Rees DC, et al. Sickle-cell disease. The Lancet. 2010;376:2018.
- Sickle cell anemia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Sca/SCA_All.html. Accessed Jan. 24, 2011.