Coronavirus and You
By Tosin Adesoye, MBBS, Founder, SICKLELIVE FOUNDATION
The absent or malfunctioning spleen as the case may be is responsible for the low immunity in sickle cell disease…
People living with sickle cell disease are categorized as high risk because they have a high tendency of having a severe disease if they ever contract COVID-19 disease regardless of their age. This is because majority of people living with SCD are immunocompromised, meaning that they have a low immunity.
WHY DO PEOPLE WITH SCD HAVE LOW IMMUNITY?
The Spleen is an organ which is part of the body’s immune system. It’s called a blood filter. It helps in the clearance of microorganisms that cause infections amidst other functions.
In sickle cell disease, the abnormal sickled red blood cells that occlude blood vessels also impair blood supply to the spleen making it malfunction and causing it to die (splenic infarction). It starts by scarring, then it shrinks and stops functioning. Majority of sickle cell warriors lose their spleen before the age of 7.
So the absent or malfunctioning spleen as the case may be is responsible for the low immunity in sickle cell disease.
HOW PEOPLE LIVING WITH SICKLE CELL DISEASE CAN AVOID GETTING INFECTED
People living with sickle cell disease should employ the following prevention strategies:
1. SOCIAL DISTANCING
STAY AT HOME WARRIORS!
As a high risk that you are, it is essential that you don’t take chances. Put yourself on a personal lockdown!!!
Note: For those that work and are still expected to go to work:
– if you can work from home, get permission to do just that
– if not, get a medical report stating your health status and high risk state and why you need to be extra careful and stay at home
– If your management still doesn’t grant your request, still stay at home regardless you are more important than the work (hopefully, the authorities will see reason to let you work from home)
– For students, thankfully, the schools are closed!
- When you have to go out and interact with people, maintain a distance of at least 2 metres. No hugging, no handshaking, no standing side by side to take pictures etc
- Preferably, greet people by waving, nodding, bowing or namaste
- Cancel all social gatherings and avoid crowded places
2. PHYSICAL CONTACT: Don’t be in physical contact with anyone with travel history or contact with a person who has been diagnosed of COVID-19 disease if they have not been isolated or tested negative to Corona virus.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20seconds especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, before and after eating or cooking, toilet use, after touching surfaces.
- Use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol in the absence of soap and water. Wash your hands with soap and water if it is soiled
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose with unwashed hands
- Cough or sneeze into bent elbow or tissue then discard tissue
- You can also use face mask when you cough or sneeze, also stay at least 2 metres away from people to avoid infecting others and don’t forget to seek medical attention.
- Cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LOCKDOWN
- Get all your essential needs, food ,water, groceries for like a period of 2 months or more so that even if you will hardly need to go out
- Obtain your Doctor’s phone number if you do not have it so that you don’t have to visit the clinic except it is absolutely necessary
- Get your prescription drugs that will last you for at least 3 months. This is very important
- Stop visitations to your house and vice versa
- Find ways to manage your health to avoid crises and hospitalisations this period by following the instructions below
- Do not miss your routine drugs e.g folic acid, multivitamins, antimalarial prophylaxis, penicillin prophylaxis, hydroxyurea etc as it is applicable to you
- Adequate hydration
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Try to sleep Adequately – good sleep is an immune booster!
- Avoid all avoidable triggers of sickle cell crises like cold, stress, undue exertion, heat, emotional disturbance etc
- For those that can tolerate exercise , you can exercise within your limits but ensure adequate rest and hydration in between exercise. For those that can’t tolerate much exercise. Walking around the house for a period of time daily might just be enough exercise for you
- Sleep under insecticide treated net, use insecticide sprays, keep a clean and dry environment etc to avoid malaria infection
- There is a need to specially educate your family members that you live with on the pandemic, your high risk status, their need to follow all these guidelines carefully for themselves and for you.
Dr. Adesoye Oluwatosin, FOUNDER, SICKLELIVE FOUNDATION