Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sickle Cell "Crisis" Triggers

There are things in the lives of people with sickle cell disease that trigger a sickle cell “crisis”. Some things like simply living, working and surviving can causes triggers to push us over the edge into the pit of pain. Other things, in some cases, are preventable like lifestyle choices. Either way, once the trigger is set, a sickle cell crisis begins with full fury.

Some of the triggers are:
1. Excessive temperatures (too hot/too cold)
2. Infection (cold/flu/etc.)
3. Stress
4. Exhaustion (not enough rest)
5. Over-exertion (too much work/too much exercise).
6. De-hydration (not enough water)
7. Bad Nutrition (dieting/not eating good food)
8. Bad Lifestyle Habits (alcohol/smoking/drugs)

Once the crisis has begun, usually a hospital stay follows. God forbid a crisis leads to death, but usually a blood transfusion, oxygen, antibiotics, pain medication, and glucose (for hydration) are needed. After a week, maybe two, in the hospital you come out feeling thinner, slower, and hoping to never go back again. Wishful thinking.

Since we’re living in a stressful world full of every kind of trigger, it is important for people with Sickle Cell to really take care of themselves. What we can’t control, we should let go of. What we can control, we should. Good living and good habits will help us live.

Ps. I want to live as long as possible…so, I’m taking a nap right now! ;-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leg Ulcers

As a child I wondered why minor cuts to my legs and arms took a long time to heal. Everyone thought I picked or bothered my injuries but I hadn’t. They just wouldn’t heal. Sometimes, they would get infected and spread. As a child, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Now I do. People with Sickle Cell Disease sometimes get leg ulcers that don’t heal. The reasons why are listed below. Live and learn.

What Causes Leg Ulcers?

Years of research have shown that the usual causes of leg ulcers are not a problem with the skin itself, but the lack of blood flow to the skin.
Because blood supply to the skin is crucial, ulcers can be a result of poor circulation. They can also be a result of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension (and sickle cell disease). Ulcers are also commonly associated with depressed or lowered immune systems and people who’ve had their spleen removed.

Treatment for leg ulcers
When treating leg ulcers, there are several areas that should be considered. Treatment can be a combination of: antibiotics, wound or ulcer care, anti-inflammation bandages, and elevation.
Once an ulcer develops, there is always the risk of infection due to bacteria getting into the ulcer. Antibiotics may need to be prescribed to control the bacteria growth and the spread of any infection.

Wound cleansing for the treatment of infection and increasing circulation are crucial. Many ulcers need weekly wound care to help them heal. This consists of having the ulcer regularly cleaned to remove any debris and rebandaged with clean bandages.

Anti-inflammatory treatment includes application of bandages wrapped with several layers of bandages over the dressing, and then a compression stocking is placed over the bandages. This helps to keep the pressure down in the veins, which is thought to be the most important aspect of ulcer healing. If any numbness or problems with circulation are discovered bandages should be removed immediately.

So long as there is no arterial disease, leg ulcers will also benefit from elevation. Elevating the leg higher than the hip helps to pull any fluid that has collected in the direction it should go, (towards the heart). This helps prevent excess swelling in the leg, which helps to relieve excess pressure in the veins of the leg as well, and promotes better healing.

If ulcers are neglected (because they don't cause pain) or if ulcers are not treated, they can lead to more serious problems.

Once the causes of leg ulcers are under control the ulcer should heal by itself. Successful prevention for leg ulcers and successful treatment for leg ulcers must be directed at correcting the underlying cause, or what has prevented healing, not the ulcer itself. If an underlying disease is one of the causes of leg ulcers (diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension (and sickle cell disease), it's important that it is treated.

Leg and foot ulcers have a tendency to recur in elderly people, and sometimes may require years of therapy. Prevention may include weight loss (if you are overweight) and regular exercise to promote good circulation. Body Detox can also help to purify the blood and cleanse the system. Good nutrition is also a good way to increase the body’s natural defenses to prevent ulcers.

Smoking is known to decrease the amount of oxygen that gets to the ulcer through the bloodstream, which prevents potential healing. If you suffer from a leg ulcer and smoke, you should stop smoking to allow better blood flow to the wound.

Nutrition plays a big role in healing leg ulcers. Getting the right mix of treatment and nutrition can help an ulcer heal. There are certain vitamins and minerals that are known to aid in the healing process: vitamin C is one of these vitamins. It has been found that vitamin C mixed with bioflavonoids increases the potential of better circulation.

Other vitamins known to help with circulation are vitamin E, B complex, zinc and amino acids. Vitamin K is also important; it is known to play an important role in the clotting of the blood. Getting the right nutritional balance with vitamins and minerals helps to fight infection, aids in blood clotting factors and properly oxygenates the blood for faster healing.

Your diet also plays a big role in curing a leg ulcer. A diet high in fiber and a lot of leafy, green vegetables, especially dark green vegetables, is best. You should avoid sweets and refined sugar and eat more garlic and onions, which help to increase circulation.

Sometimes, it is necessary to perform surgery to help a leg ulcer to heal. It is a procedure that requires disconnecting malfunctioning perforator veins that are not allowing proper blood flow to get to the extremity. With the disconnection, the blood flow is redirected through the good veins and can get to the ulcer more efficiently to aid in healing it. After surgery, it is important to get plenty of rest while keeping your leg elevated. You will also need to continue wound care and to keep the ulcer free of bacteria.

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