Prevent problems at high altitude or during air travel
High altitudes. The
air at high altitudes, such as in an unpressurized airplane or in the mountains
at altitudes greater than
5,000 ft (1,524 m), has less
oxygen than at sea level. The lack of oxygen can cause cells to sickle. If you spend time at high altitudes, drink plenty of water and fluids to prevent dehydration.
Air travel. Large passenger
airplanes are pressurized. But a person with sickle cell disease may have a
sickling problem even when flying in a pressurized airplane. Most people won't
have problems if they are flying only for a short time (less than 4 to 6 hours)
and drink plenty of fluids during the flight.
Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke
secondhand smoke reduce the amount of oxygen in your
Manage and reduce stress
Stress may cause a sickle cell crisis.
For tips on reducing stress, see the topic Stress Management.
Get plenty of rest and sleep
To prevent fatigue, rest when you feel tired.
Stay warm in cold weather
Exposure to cold air, wind, and water
may cause a
painful event by triggering red blood cell sickling in
exposed areas of the body.
Dress warmly in cold weather. Dress in layers to avoid sudden temperature change. When possible, avoid situations where you might become cold.
Learn to recognize serious symptoms. Partner with your doctor, using your experience with the
disease and your doctor's expertise. Make a plan for how to treat pain at home
and when to seek medical care for severe pain and symptoms. Know when to call your doctor or when you need emergency help.
Learn about proper diet and dietary supplements
A balanced diet helps keep the body's
immune system strong. Your doctor or a registered dietitian
may be a good source of information about proper diet.
Folic acid supplements may be prescribed to aid the
bone marrow's production of red blood cells.1
Getting the right nutrition on a daily basis will
help children who have sickle cell disease reach their full growth