Water Therapy For Individuals Living With Sickle Cell Disease

Introduction

This means how water can both be preventive or curative for diseases, in our context, notably SCD, avoiding crisis and maintaining health.

Water makes up about 65 to 70 percent of body weight and is the most important fluid in maintaining our internal environment. The normal human physiology has the capacity to lose water and retain water depending on prevailing circumstances

Adults can get dehydrated from normal physiologic activities like just sweating or urination while children on the other hand rarely get dehydrated this way; rather dehydration in pediatrics population is often always a function of underlying pathology like diarrhea or vomiting along with not drinking enough fluids in these conditions.

In sickle cell disease water plays the additional role of keeping blood flow through the very tiny blood vessels optimum. It’s still arguable whether proper hydration is a factor for just preventing vascular occlusion which causes the pain in a crisis or preventing sickling of cells itself, however what is agreed is that more water is better.

Water is an important detoxifying agent, helping our detox organs (Liver and Kidneys) keep optimal in their functions. Simply increasing daily fluid intake shifts the body’s balance towards more elimination of waste and less toxin build-up. 

Many people get dehydrated without realizing it. Thirst (the physiologic impulse that tells you to drink) is actually signal of dehydration. A healthy water consumption habit does not wait to get thirsty. In addition, increasing age and worsening climatic factors make dehydration occur twice as fast in today’s world. 

In a state of dehydration the body releases more toxins and radicals that harm cells. It is only when you start to hydrate your body that you will begin to realize how bad you must have felt before! 

The key to proper hydration is knowing exactly how much water to take within a 24 hour period and evenly spreading that amount into regular intervals of intake. Yes, water intake like any discipline should be scheduled at first until it becomes simply habitual.

The average healthy adult should consume nothing less than 2.0 to 2.5 liters of water. People living with sickle cell disease have been thought to maintain an in-take of 3 liters. The truth is they require much more than that.

Water Therapy When PLWSCD Are Stable

1. When stable and not in crisis or ill health, the general recommendation is a glass of water (regular glass, not wine or another) every 1 to 2 hrs. For those who take “pure water” that’s about 1 sachet of pure water every 1 to 2 hrs.

2. The routine is hard to keep especially when you don’t feel thirsty, however the term is “compulsive water drinking “. This means drinking not because you want to but because you have to.

3. The best way to know how well hydrated you are during the day is to watch your pee.

-It takes an average of 2 to 3 hrs to get a full bladder when water drinking is done right. So ideally, if you taking enough water you should feel like urinating once every 3 or 3 and half hrs. If it takes you longer hours before you pee, then drinking is not optimal

Also note the color and the volume of urine. The volume should be Something comparable to how much you have drank. This is important because a time comes especially for adults with SCD, when it’s not just about drinking and peeing but having good renal function too. The color and the volume of your urine says alot about your kidney function and not just how dehydrated you are. A deep yellow color of urine often means dehydration. The more hydrated you are the clearer urine should be.  

4. Sickle cell has some ways it affects the kidneys even when the individual is not in crisis. Even for people who rarely have crisis, long term anemia still has its effect on the kidneys. Many don’t know this. Kidney function is very important although often overlooked.

5. Note, don’t be over zealous with drinking. Too much can cause pains, even tilt you in a crisis.

Water Therapy When PLWSCD Are In Crisis

1. In crisis situation, drinking capacity is reduced mainly because there is no will or zeal to drink due to illness and pain. Most times IV fluids have to be given.

2. IV fluids are necessary to accelerate blood flow. But this is not enough. There needs to be oral intake. Oral drinking must be started as soon as possible. People in crisis should be encouraged to drink orally no matter how little until it’s sufficient. Somehow the body responds better to you drinking than taking IV fluids. So it’s important to encourage anyone in crisis to drink orally

4. Drinking juice or flavored drinks or other forms of fluids does not equate to pure clean water. Nothing does it like water. The other forms of fluids could be taken to enhance longing for water, but water is best.

Water Sweeteners 

Drinking water compulsively can come as a boring and untasteful activity to people, so you can make it interesting by adding sweetness, which include…

  1. Adding glucose to your water
  2. Adding slices of orange or lime or any other preferred fruits.
  3. Adding artificial sweeteners 

Helpful Tips

  1. Have a bottle with you at all times. Let it contain water or any other rehydrating fluid
  2. Make it a way of life
  3. And drink up always

WhatsApp Discussion on held on 21st September 2018

Facilitator: Dr .J. Agbi

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