What Are the Best Home Remedies for Sickle Cell?
Sickle cell affects about 100,000 Americans. In fact, it is the most common genetic disease in the U.S. Technically, sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that impact the hemoglobin in red blood cells. This means that it affects a person’s ability to deliver and receive oxygen, which may lead to fatigue, pain, frequent infections and other complications or symptoms. There are home remedies for sickle cell that may ease these symptoms.
Treatment primarily involves reducing or eliminating pain, as well as preventing infections or other complications. For some cases, your doctor may further prescribe certain medications to address your pain. On top of this, you can use various home remedies to combat your symptoms, which is exactly what this article is all about.
Top 6 Home Remedies for Sickle Cell
With sickle cell, one of the main debilitating symptoms is pain episodes. These pain episodes can become chronic, unless managed correctly. Below, we explore the top six home remedies to help combat this symptom.
1. Drink Plenty of Fluids
You want to ensure you get enough water throughout your day. Your body is actually 60% water, which means it is essential for optimal functioning. Most men require about 3.7 liters of water each day, and women need about 2.7 liters a day.
As soon as pain episodes begin, it is important to stay hydrated. This can actually prevent the pain episode from getting worse.
2. Use Heat Therapy
Taking a warm bath, using a hot water bottle, or applying a heat pad can further help alleviate your pain. Research shows that heat can reduce pain. Make sure to place a towel in between the hot applicator and the skin to prevent damage. Apply the heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, with about 45 minutes in between each application.
Alternatively, if other techniques fail to help the pain, you may want to consider over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Your doctor can advise you on which is best for you or your child’s specific situation.
3. Try Relaxation Techniques
Massage can also soothe pain, as well as provide a distraction. Some individuals success with acupuncture, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.
Deep breathing techniques that may help include the 4-7-8 method. This involves breathing in for the count of four, pausing for the count of seven and exhaling for the count of eight. Repeat this 5 to 10 times while focusing on your breath.
Additionally, distractions, such as reading a book or watching TV, can help alleviate pain episodes and make them easier to navigate.
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4. Maintain an Overall Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is important for anyone. For those with sickle cell, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce complications.
Ensure you are obtaining a variety of nutrients through your diet by consuming whole foods and limiting the amount of processed foods.
Exercise is still important for individuals with sickle cell. However, it is recommended to take plenty of breaks to prevent exhaustion and other symptom flare-ups. It’s advised to keep your exercise mild and light with frequent breaks.
5. Be Aware of Triggers
If intense exercise causes pain episodes and extreme fatigue, you likely should avoid it. (In fact, this often is not recommended for individuals with sickle cell.) Additionally, some individuals may find extreme temperatures cause flare-ups. This is why ensuring you are wearing proper clothing in the cold or heat is important. It also may be best to stay in air-conditioned areas during extreme heat warnings of any kind.
6. Take Care to Prevent Infections
Surprisingly, small infections, such as a cold or flu, can be dangerous for those with sickle cell disease. Make sure you and your family are conscious of this, and take the proper precautions, including frequent handwashing. Any person diagnosed with sickle cell disease should also avoid raw foods, such as fish, undercooked meat, or raw eggs, since this may lead to salmonella, which can have heightened risks for those with this condition.
Also, make sure your or your child’s vaccinations are all accounted for, as this can reduce your or your child’s chance of getting ill.
If your child (or you) experiences a fever, make sure you seek out the advice of your family doctor. Fevers can indicate hazardous infections, which can lead to increased complications for someone with sickle cell disease. In other words, simply treating the fever with over-the-counter medications might not be the best.
Lastly, there are support groups for those with sickle cell disease. Research these groups in your local community. Having someone to connect to who is going through something similar can provide emotional and mental support you may need.
- StatPearls (Sickle Cell Disease)
- Mayo Clinic (Sickle cell anemia)
- NHS (Treatment: Sickle cell disease)
- Mayo Clinic (Water: How much should you drink every day?)
- Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (The Efficacy of Thermotherapy and Cryotherapy on Pain Relief in Patients with Acute Low Back Pain, A Clinical Trial Study)
- PubMed.gov (Acupuncture for chronic pain in adults with sickle cell disease: a mixed-methods pilot study)