How To Care For Sickle Cell Disease And Incontinence

Caring for someone with sickle cell disease often means providing for your child as well as taking care of yourself, since it’s an inherited condition. However, your child may have different symptoms than you, such as incontinence. Learn how sickle cell disease and incontinence are connected and how to provide proper care.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, which is the molecule in red blood cells that’s responsible for transporting oxygen to cells throughout your body. SCD causes hemoglobin molecules to have an unusual shape such as a sickle or crescent shape.

sickle cell disease and incontinence due to hemoglobin crescent shape

Sickle Cell Disease symptoms are usually present during early childhood, usually during the first 5 months of age, but the severity varies in different people from mild to severe and needing to be frequently hospitalized. Common symptoms include: 
  • Anemia boy has sickle cell disease and incontinence symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Episodes of pain
  • Repeated infections
  • Jaundice
  • Organ damage in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain
  • Pulmonary hypertension

These symptoms, especially anemia, are caused by the sickle shape of the red blood cells because it causes them to prematurely break down. The blood cells also become sticky and can clog blood vessels, leading to acute chest syndrome and strokes.

How Sickle Cell Disease Contributes To Incontinence

SCD can contribute to overactive bladder, nocturnal enuresis (wetting the bed at night), and incontinence in children and adults. People often experience increased urgency and frequency to go due to increased bladder contractions.

However, how SCD causes bladder dysfunction is unclear. It could be due to how SCD impacts the kidneys because it causes the inability to produce concentrated urine, meaning a large amount of dilute urine suddenly fills the bladder. Plus, children may fail to notice the urge to go during the night. The bladder may also have more inflammatory cells, causing stress that impairs the function to fully empty.

More research needs to be performed to determine the exact correlation. In the meantime, caregivers should seek urological care for children with SCD to determine the severity of incontinence. This will help determine a proper management plan to keep your child comfortable and sanitary.

Caring For Sickle Cell Disease And Incontinence

1. Embrace Hydration

Kid with sickle cell disease and incontinence stays hydrated Not only does hydrating help the bladder function but it avoids dehydration which can place stress on the urinary tract. Plus, dehydration increases the risk of sickle cell crisis. Sickle cell crisis is pain that occurs very suddenly that can last anywhere between just a few hours to a couple of days. It occurs when red blood cells stick together and block small blood vessels that carry blood to your bones.

Aim for at least 8 cups of water a day, unless you live in a warmer area, then drink more. Organic juices can be helpful too. Avoid liquids that may increase pressure on the bladder such as caffeinated beverages, drinks high in sugar, alcohol, and coffee.

2. Avoid Temperature Extremes

If you’re going out on a hot or extremely cold day be prepared with the right outfit and tools to stay warm or cool. Exposure to temperature extremes can increase the risk of sickle cell crisis.

3. Provide A Healthy Diet

Bone marrow requires folic acid as well as other vitamins to make new red blood cells. Plus, a healthy diet can reduce stress on the urinary tract. Get plenty of whole grains, fruits, and veggies for nutritious meals.

Avoid foods that can increase pressure on the urinary tract like spicy foods, items high in refined sugar, fried foods, greasy foods, and highly processed snacks.

It’s important for those with SCD to give a proper amount of exercise, but how much exercise depends on your doctor’s recommendation. You don’t want to overdo it. Encourage your children to play outside, ride bikes, or walk with you. Getting some exercise a few days a week helps reduce incontinence symptoms as well.

5. Avoid Infections

If your child has a fever get on high alert! Common illnesses can mean a lot of trouble for those with SCD. Make sure your child washes their hands, avoids other sick children, avoids raw meat or eggs, and always wash their fruits and veggies.

6. Be Prepared For Accidents child struggles with incontinence and sickle cell anemia

Make sure your child has everything they may need to remain dry and comfortable during a day of school, sleepover, or other activities. Send them with enough incontinence supplies to change into in case an accident occurs. It can also be helpful to have a change of clothes, hand sanitizer, changing gloves, wet wipes, and disposal bags on hand for quick and easy changes.

7. Don’t Overpay For Incontinence Products

If you’re caring for a child with sickle cell disease then you already have enough on your plate. Don’t burden yourself with trying to remember enough incontinence supplies as well, especially when you may qualify to receive them through insurance in 3 easy steps.

  1. Fill out our qualification form!
  2. We will verify your coverage and contact you with your options.
  3. Your items will arrive at your home before you know it! And they will keep arriving every single month.