It is hard for some individuals to self-manage their sickle cell disease in other months of the year but it’s more challenging in the month of Ramadan for Muslims. The first advice doctors gave to people suffering from the sickle-cell disease is that you need to stay hydrated, worm and consuming a lot of fluid (drinks). Well, all these things are easy if you’re not fasting, except the staying worm part which is redundant throughout summer. For those that live in sub-Saharan Africa or the United Arab Emirate, staying hydrated is a most even for those without sickle-cell disease because of the hot temperature in these regions during summer.

The questions that need to be answered is ‘’how can I stay hydrated in Ramadan month?”, ‘’how can I perform my fasting while avoiding the emerges of my sickle-cell crisis?” and ‘’how can I maintain my sickle-cell crisis when I’m fasting without breaking it? all these questions will be answered and it is possible to conduct all your fasting without hospitalizing yourself in the process.

The main issues sickle-cell sufferers face at the time of their crises are back pain, joints pain, sudden fever, breathless, and fatigue. All these problems can happen simultaneously or one-by-one. These problems are being avoided by taking a daily prescription, some prescription maybe hourly, nonetheless it is hard to keep up with your prescription if you intended to fast for Ramadan.

The first tip to fasting in Ramadan and staying crises-free is staying hydrated. Okay, bear with me on this one, I’m still aware of not drinking anything when fasting… I know I’m still aware of that, but allow me to explain. Well, the trick of staying hydrated in Ramadan is by drinking a lot of water after iftar (the time to breakfast); ‘’yes I know, you can’t drink a lot of water at that time because you may not get to eat the amount of food you want,” this is true but the casing point here is you can eat normally like anyone else but you should try and see you have achieved the amount of water a person should drink per day (8-ounce glasses or about 2 liters). So, I know the next question is ‘’how can you drink 2 liters of water,” drinking 2 liters of water is easy, just drink 3 glasses of water every hour till Sahour before you notice, you may pass the limit and it’s a good thing; because your body needs all the water it can get to maintain hydration during the day. If you’re a student that still goes to school in Ramadan the main thing is to stay away from any activities that may cause you to sweat or get you dehydrated, especially PE classes; I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend the classes but explain your condition to the teacher and be reasonable when doing so. If you’re someone working in the sun (labor workers) or any kind of work, it is best if you take 30 minutes break every 2-3 hours to catch your breath, at the same time try not to stress yourself even when the job is stressful. You can do this by taking whatever you’re doing slow, besides effective work requires an effective mind. If you’re not working or attending school during Ramadan yours is easy sleep-it-off and stay away from the things I mentioned (stress, hard chores, and the sun), if you abide by these things your fasting will be a bit easier. 

The second tip is never missing your medication time. This is the tricky part, some sickle-cell medicine required to be taken three times a day while others just once daily. Those medicines that required to be taken three times a day, need some compromises, I’m not talking about overdose here. You can achieve minimal satisfaction by just taking those pills twice instead of three-time, you can achieve this by taking 1 after ifter and another during Sahour; this is about 4-5 hours interval. Those that required being taken once daily can be taken every day after ifter. Another thing, if you get the feeling that your crises may arises that day take your painkillers at Sahour to be safe and maintain minimal work during the day at work or in school (PE classes only).

The final tip is managing your sickle-cell crises without breaking your fast. Okay, this tip is for adults alone, if you’re a kid or teenager is best you break the fast and let your parents take care of you. Sickle-cell crises are the most painful moment of one’s day, particularly when its joints pain, fever or back pain. When these occur while fasting you can keep your fast if you can suppress the pain, however not advisable; if you’re like me who tend to suppress things if possible, well, welcome aboard friend. You can self-manage your condition during Ramadan by using non-injectable medicine and pads, this can be done by using pain relief lotion or by using ankle and knee support pads. Ankle and knee support pads help keep the joint muscles tied hence reducing the pain by maintaining the blood flow in the area evenly, at the same time keeping the muscles worm in the process; this is very effective and the best method for me to ease my pain quickly without taking painkillers. These methods can be used concurrently, meaning applying the pain relief lotion and putting the pads at the same time. Pain relief lotion is more effective if the part applied is covered. In addition to all these, taking a hot bath help reduce the pain and after you can apply the pain relief lotion or put on the support pads.

NOTE: The above-mentioned tips are based on personal experience and expertise. I have been using these tips for a while now and it works for me and I’m sure it can work for you. Please stay hydrated during and after Ramadan it will helps in managing your condition and always take your folic acid and other medication in a timely manner. If your crises passed the scale of 6 out of 10 on the pain scale its best if you terminate your fasting for the day and take care of yourself; there is no point in hospitalizing yourself while trying to finish your fasting. The Almighty said ‘’We know your thought before you even think of it, and We know your intention before you act on it”. The point is to take care of your health as you can re-fast afterword when you’re healthy.

Thanks for your time and you can leave a comment about your thought or tell me if you have tried any of these tips in the past and share it with someone who can benefit from these tips.

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