TRIGGERS OF SICKLE CELL DISEASE

Did you know?

There are two kinds of sickle cell crisis:
1. Hemolytic Crises: this is when the blood cells rupture and the blood count (PCV) goes down. it causes fatigue and dizziness.
2. Vaso-Occlusive Crises: is when circulation of the blood vessels are obstructed by sickled red blood cells, causing ischemic injuries. It causes a lot of pain.

Let’s talk about triggers:
1. Dehydration: If there’s not enough fluid in the body, the blood won’t move like it should.) As much as possible, you need to stay hydrated.
2. Emotional stress: In this case, giving sickle cell disease patients “Immune support nutrients” would help stabilize them and prevent sudden crises.
3. Infections: We all face stress in different forms, the thing with children with sickle cell disease is that their threshold for stress is lower than the average threshold of a person without sickle cell disease.
4. Reduced Oxygen supply: If there is a decrease in oxygen, let us say for one reason, you are in a stuffy room for instance and don’t have enough air, you are not able to breath well, that can be a trigger for a crisis.
5. Pregnancy: Pregnancy places a huge stress on the human body. You may have to double the nutrients you are taking once you know you are going through (or about to go through) a stressful period.

Signs and symptoms of a sickle cell crisis
1. Episodes of pain: The pain varies in intensity and can last for a few hours to a few weeks. Some people have only a few pain episodes. Others have a dozen or more crises a year. If a crisis is severe enough, you might need to be hospitalized.
2. Painful swelling of hands and feet: The swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow to the hands and feet.
3. Frequent infections: Sickle cells can damage an organ that fights infection (spleen), leaving you more vulnerable to infections. Doctors commonly give infants and children with sickle cell anemia vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent potentially life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.
4. Delayed growth: Red blood cells provide your body with the oxygen and nutrients you need for growth. A shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.
5. Vision problems: Tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes may become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina — the portion of the eye that processes visual images, leading to vision problems.

What we know about SCD crises is that they tend to build upon themselves, causing progressive damage to the body, even when it appears the patient has recovered. That’s why it is crucial that we prevent crises from happening in the first place.

Our focus in the Foundation is to repair and restore normal structure and function. We know for a fact, that many a time, some of the things that cause sudden death in children with sickle cell disease is not just the pain in the hands and feet, but the progressive damage to the lung tissue.

In summary, we address: inflammation, infection, free radical damage and blood flow to try and restore this kids to health. The good thing about children is that they have so much reserves, which helps them recover quickly if supported with the right nutrients.

Top causes of death in SCD Are:
1. Infections
2. Lung damage

SICKLE CELL DISEASE: BREAKING THE CYCLE OF PAIN

In Nigeria, we have over two million people suffering from sickle cell disease.

The challenge is that, people with sickle cell disease stand a huge risk of losing their lives unless they are on regular therapy to reverse the effect of the damage caused by the disease. In order to address this epidemic, we decided to take a close look at this problem. “What is going on here?” and “What can be done?”

The normal blood cell, as supposed to a sickled blood cell last for about 120 days, a sickled blood cell lasts only 20 days, under a period of stress.

It tends to form a sickled shape making it difficult to move through the blood vessels, especially the smaller blood vessels and when that happens, it can block the blood vessel and cause pain which can eventually result to death.

The key problem is that the blood cells tend to be more fragile, they tend to be more prone to forming sickle shaped cells, these sickled cells block the blood vessels, and that is why children have bone, stomach and chest pain.

The sickled cells can rupture spontaneously, especially under stress, and once that happens the child’s blood level goes down and you’ll see fatigue, stroke, and in some cases the child can’t do anything again.

There are four main areas that we can address and help to minimize the frequency of crises and formation of these sickled shaped cells :

  1. Children with sickle cell disease tend to have high levels of infection (their immunity is lower than the average immunity)
  2. Children with sickle cell disease have inflammation within the blood vessels in children with sickle cell disease, these blood vessels are damaged continually.
  3. Children with sickle cell disease they produce high levels of free radicals (waste products) which overwhelm the body’s natural ability to neutralize them.
  4. Finally, because of the sickled cells that block the blood vessels, the blood flow is compromised. So improving blood flow can go a long way towards minimizing crises.
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