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October 31, 2014 by Andrea

african american college students walking together


'Tis the season of college applications! An exciting time for most high school seniors, punctuated with a little bit of nervousness, students with sickle cell may be feeling a little more anxious. What happens if they have a crisis far from home? Will there be doctors nearby who know how to treat sickle cell? Read on to find out how to help your rising college freshman find the right school for him or her.

1. Where to go. Just because a student has sickle cell doesn't mean he has to limit his choices of schools. However, narrowing down his top picks to a region with a milder climate may be a good idea, as extreme cold and extreme heat can cause a crisis to crop up. If the choice is made to attend a university located in an area with extreme weather, though, be sure he takes precautions: layer clothing when it's cold, stay hydrated no matter what, stay indoors to avoid the extremes, and be sure that he can control the temperature in his dorm room.

2. Who to see. During her school's fall kickoff activities, your student should be sure to visit the health center's booth to learn more about the services the staff doctors offer. Have they ever dealt with a sickle cell student? Do they have resources on campus to help in a crisis and/or can they transport your student to a nearby hospital that does have the resources, if necessary? Finding the right medical care may prove difficult if a college is located in a rural area, so keep that in mind. If attending school in a large city, your student will be more likely to find physicians who specialize in sickle cell disease. A great place to start the search is by meeting with your student's current team of doctors and asking them for assistance before move-in day.

3. What to do. It's almost an unwritten rule of college to live off of pizza, ramen, and caffeine and stay up late into the early morning hours to study. But, that's not the healthiest way of life for anyone -- especially students with sickle cell. Remind your child to maintain healthy habits by opting for more wholesome foods, establishing an exercise regimen, getting plenty of rest, and managing stress levels.

4. What to bring. Besides her entire closet and new dorm room decor, your student will need to have her health records on hand at all times. This way, be it the doctors at the campus health center or the doctors in the nearest hospital, her physicians will be able to see what the best options for treatment are, should she need it.

Follow these guidelines and your son or daughter can have an enjoyable -- and healthy -- first year of college!


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