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3 Ways to Prevent a Crisis in the Colder Months

October 15, 2014 by Andrea


When you live with SCD, the fall and winter months bring more to mind than pumpkin spice lattes and Turkey Trots. You have to think about the increased risk of crises due to the change in weather. 

According to a study led by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2010, "the debilitating pain experienced by people with sickle-cell disease becomes more intense when temperatures drop in the fall and winter months," reports VCU News. Why is this? When your body becomes cold, your muscles tend to use more oxygen in order to try and keep your body warm. As a result, this lessens the amount of oxygen in your red blood cells. Cold temperatures also cause blood flow to slow down, which can cause sickled cells to get stuck, back up the flow, and prompt pain. 

Here are 3 ways to prevent a crisis in the colder months: 

1) Layer up. Obviously, everyone should dress warmly when it's cold outside; however, this is especially important for people with sickle cell. As a crisis can be sparked with extreme cold or extreme heat, dressing warmly by layering your clothing is your best bet. This way, you'll help your body stay warm, which helps keep your blood flowing normally, and, if you start to get too hot while inside, you can simply remove the very top layers. 

2) Stay hydrated. Yes, it's possible to become dehydrated in the fall and winter, as well, and dehydration can cause cells to sickle. Even if you don't feel thirsty, you still need to make sure you're taking in plenty of fluids -- water, hot chocolate, tea, juices, soups, etc. Even eating fruits, such as apples, cranberries,blueberries, plums, and bananas -- which are high in water content -- can help keep you hydrated. 

3) Avoid being outside for long periods of time. You can still enjoy the crisp, autumn air or play in the snow for a few minutes, but be sure to dress appropriately when in the outdoors and not subject yourself to any extreme cold. When planning winter vacations, choose a place with a warmer climate or a place that has access to indoor heating, if the weather outside is a bit frigid. This way, the entire family can still enjoy all four seasons -- safely. 

How do you prevent a crisis from occurring during the fall and winter? Tell us in the comments below!

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