How can the symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) be prevented?
The following tips enlisted will help to guide the care of individuals with SCD.
· Adults gainfully employed can inform their employers of their health conditions for appropriate attention and support.
· Keeping warm
· Eating healthily
· Engaging in moderate exercise
· Taking plenty of fluids
· Periodic Medical check-ups
· Avoiding smoking and alcohol,
· Up to date with medications and vaccinations
Certain factors have been identified as more likely to precipitate a painful Sickle Cell crisis. These include:
· Cold and/or damp conditions
· Strenuous exertion
· Sudden changes in temperature
1. Doctor’s Contact: SCD people must ensure regular visits to their doctors and also comply with their prescriptions.
2. Water: People with SCD need to be well hydrated to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill. Have a ready supply of fresh drinking water always available. Do not restrict drinking water in School.
3. Using the Toilet: People with SCD cannot concentrate urine as readily. They produce large quantities of dilute urine and need to go to the toilet more often. Do not restrict toilet breaks for children.
4. Tiredness: The person with SCD may experience severe anaemia. This may mean they feel tired, lethargic and unable to concentrate. They may feel tired to the point where they feel they need to sleep. Young people are likely to be tired towards the end of their 4-week cycle of transfusions. It is important that teachers do not mistake serious medical symptoms of SCD for laziness. Climbing several flights of stairs several times per day to get to and from the classroom is physically demanding for some young people with SCD.
5. Physical Exercise: Avoid hard, physical exercises involving strenuous exertion that could precipitate a sickle cell crisis. Encourage moderate exercise. Listen to the young person who will come to know their own safe limits of physical activity. For SCD, do not refuse requests if a young person asks to be excused or stop the activity because of tiredness or pain. For children with SCD, cold or wet weather, or exposure of the skin to cooling wind may all be a trigger to episodes of illness. Obligatory sports and gym sessions out of doors in cold and wet weather is a potent stimulant to crisis for children. It is important to listen to the child and parent.
6. Infection: Young people with SCD have a damaged or missing spleen (the organ that helps to fight infections). Enable safe storage and dispensing of any antibiotic drugs prescribed for the person with sickle cell disease.
7. Temperature: Avoid activities that require outdoor work in cold or damp conditions; maintain good ventilation of study areas. Allow sweaters to be worn in class, and permit the child with SCD to stay inside at break in cold or wet and windy weather. Young people with SCD may become ill if they are too hot or too cold. They should not be made to go outside in cold or rainy or windy weather during breaks. Keep the young persons with SCD safe, but do so without drawing attention to him as different from others.
8. Health Insurance: All individuals with SCD should be supported by the relevant Government and other Agencies to purchase Health Insurance so that all their family earnings are not spent out of pocket on health bills.
9. Pain and Teacher’s Awareness: SCD is an unpredictable condition, variable over time and between different people. This creates uncertainty for the young person. The painful crises can come on quite suddenly. Pain can make a person grumpy, unresponsive and uncooperative. The pain of a sickle cell crisis can be mild, moderate or severe. Pain is such a common experience for people with SCD. Staff at school for students or at work for adults needs to know what to do if the child has a painful crisis, how to recognize signs and symptoms of a stroke in young people with SCD, and learn to listen to the child if the child says they are feeling unwell. Ensure the availability of a safe area for a pupil with SCD to recover and take time out from activities. They may be able to return to study later in the day.
10. Challenging Discrimination & Stigmatization: Ensure that SCD is discussed as part of Personal, Health and Social Education and practice this in schools, religious organisations, and media platforms throughout Nigeria.
REQUIREMENTS TO STAY HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN WITH SICKLE CELL DISEASE
Youths- A Call to Action for a Preventive Approach to Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria. Seventh Matriculation Lecture. Delivered at Achievers University, Owo on Thursday, 23rd January 2014. Prepared by A.G. Falusi.
A Parent Handbook for Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria. Part I, 0-6yrs. A University of Ibadan publication with support from Children’s Hospital, Oakland Sickle Cell Centre and Centre for Global Health, University of Chicago. Prepared by B.Brown, A.G. Falusi& P.K. Jaudes. (ISBN: 978 978 937 257 7) 2013.
A Parent Handbook for Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria. Part II, 6-18yrs. A University of Ibadan publication with support from Children’s Hospital, Oakland Sickle Cell Centre and Centre for Global Health, University of Chicago. Prepared by B.Brown, A.G. Falusi& P.K. Jaudes. (ISBN: 978 978 937 258 4) 2013.