Hydration and sickle cell disease

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Your drinking habits are an important part of your lifestyle because they affect your overall well-being. Find out how drinking enough fluids helps your body function and reduces the risk of a pain crisis in people with sickle cell disease.

Key points

  • Teenagers should drink four to 12 glasses of fluid each day to stay hydrated. To help you reach this target, make sure to drink regularly throughout the day.
  • Carrying a water bottle with you and trying water at different temperatures or with flavours can make it easier to drink more.
  • If you do not have enough water, your blood becomes thicker, and your body creates more sickled cells. Staying hydrated reduces the risk of a pain crisis from sickling in your blood cells.

Drinking enough fluids during the day helps to maintain good overall body health. For instance, water regulates your body temperature, helps flush waste products from your liver and kidneys, carries nutrients to your cells and helps prevent constipation.

When you have sickle cell disease, water is also extremely important for your blood flow. When your body does not have enough water, blood becomes thicker. Your body will also create more sickled cells, which makes a pain crisis more likely.

In someone who's dehydrated, blood thickens and more sickle cells exist, increasing the risk of a pain crisis

You probably know that your body needs a lot of fluids each day. The recommended adequate intake for teenagers is four to 12 glasses. The only way to reach this target is to drink regularly throughout the day.

An easy way to make sure you drink enough during the day is to carry a water bottle with you when you are outside your home and fill it at least twice.

Tip: You can experiment with water temperature and flavour to make it easier for you to drink more. Some people prefer ice cold water while others can drink more when it is room temperature or slightly warm. Others enjoy flavoured water, for instance by adding slices of lemon or cucumber, mint leaves or flavoured drops.

Aside from drinking regularly throughout the day, it is also important to eat at regular intervals. Have a set time for breakfast, lunch, an after-school snack and dinner. If you go too many hours without eating anything, your body will experience a drop in blood sugar, and you may notice that you feel dizzy and low in energy.

For more information on healthy eating and diet, see Diet and exercise in the sickle cell library.

Last updated: January 4th 2024