“Wellness, is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization.
Wellness is an active process. A process of becoming aware of what is good health and making choices to achieve it. For most people it’s easier to focus on physical health. Problems with physical health are more obvious than poor mental or emotional health. It’s important though that you pay just as much attention to your emotional health. The mind-body connection is a powerful one and should not be ignored. Problems with physical health often have their origin in poor emotional health.
People who are emotionally healthy are:
- Able to cope with and adjust to the recurrent stresses of everyday living in an acceptable way.
- They handle their emotions appropriately and control their behavior.
- They build strong relationships
- They have a positive outlook to life that allows them to bounce back from adversity.
This ability to recover is known as resilience.
War and disasters have a large impact on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. Economic downturns and difficult life events can also affect emotional health. For much of Sub-Saharan Africa, daily life is stressful. There is a lack of the basic services, benefits and rights that the developed world takes for granted. Political instability, insecurity and economic recession worsen the situation. All these conditions cause an increase in anxiety, depression, substance abuse and community violence.
We all need to be resilient!
Good mental or emotional health allows you to cope with difficulties. You feel good about yourself and find meaning and joy in life. It helps you to remain focused, and work productively. You’re able to maintain good relationships whether times are good or bad.
Research shows some key factors for improving mental and emotional health and building resilience:
- Connect with others– “share your burden”. The best way to reduce stress is by interaction with people who care about you and are supportive. Your situation may not change but by talking about your problems, you lighten the load. Avoid social media “relationship building”. It is only a temporary distraction and is not a substitute for the real thing.
- Get active. Exercise not only boosts your mood by releasing endorphins in your brain but it has direct benefits for your physical health. It improves memory, alertness and productivity. 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily is all it takes!
- Manage stress. Deep breathing relaxation techniques are helpful; meditation; get enough sleep; spend at least 15 minutes daily on something you enjoy such as reading, playing a game, singing, playing with your children; Drop activities that waste your time and don’t improve your life in any way; make time for relaxation.
- Healthy eating. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugary snacks and other forms of stress eating. Choose healthy stress-busting eating options instead. Green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, beans and fish are all good choices.
- Help others. Research shows that people, who help others feel enriched, have greater self-esteem and are happier. It also takes the focus off your problems for a while.
Tips on dealing with your emotions:
- Express your feelings in appropriate ways – Share them with people close to you. Before they become overwhelming and difficult to control.
- Think before you act – Take a deep breath, count to 10 or even 20; leave the room and get some fresh air; go for a walk.
- Strive for balance in your life –Make time for activities you enjoy. Everyday, write down something that you’re grateful for. Focus on the positive things in your life.
Did you know that Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disease in the world? It is most common in people whose ancestors are from Africa, India, the Middle East, South or Central America, Caribbean islands, the Mediterranean countries (such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
In sub-Saharan Africa, it is most common in West and Central Africa where as many as one out of every four people (25%) have sickle cell trait. Nigeria has the highest number of people with this disease around the world. It is estimated that around 4 million people in Nigeria suffer from SCD while 40 million others carry the gene, which they pass to their offspring. Some important things to note are:
- Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited condition, a disease passed through genes at the time of conception.
- For the disease to emerge, it must be passed down by both parents
– A person who receives a gene for Sickle Cell Disease from one parent and a normal gene from the other has a condition called ‘Sickle cell trait’. Sickle cell trait produces no symptoms or problems for most people.
– If one parent has sickle-cell disease and the other has sickle-cell trait, then the child has a 50% chance of having sickle-cell disease and a 50% chance of having sickle-cell trait.
– When both parents have sickle-cell trait, a child has a 25% chance of sickle-cell disease, 25% do not carry any sickle-cell gene, and 50% have the sickle cell trait.
- People who have sickle cell trait do not develop sickle cell disease, but they are “carriers” who can pass the abnormal gene on to their children.
- Most carriers live completely normal, healthy lives.
- Sickle Cell Trait and Sickle Cell Disease are NOT contagious
In a nutshell, if somebody with sickle cell trait marries another person with the trait, there’s a one in four chance for every pregnancy, that that child will have Sickle Cell Disease
In the USA, mandatory testing is carried out on all new-borns. It is a simple blood test that looks for sickle cell traits or sickle cell disease. However in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are no governmental universal new-born screening policies in place.
It is important therefore, that every parent should have their new born tested in order to determine if SCD is present. The test known as “Genotype test” and is available inexpensively at all general hospitals and private health facilities. Just as it is recommended for prospective to undergo HIV testing before marriage, screening for SCD with a genotype test is equally important. It allows couples to know whether they are carriers of the SCD gene and therefore at risk of passing it on to their offspring.
SCD has major social and economic implications for the affected child as well as the family. Recurrent sickle cell crises interfere with the patient’s life, especially with regard to education, work and psychosocial development.
People affected by the SCD experience different symptoms that may also vary in severity from one individual to the other, some experience mild symptoms while others may experience severe symptoms that result in frequent hospitalizations. In infants symptoms usually do not start to show until they are 4 – 6 months of age and occur in the form of painful swollen hands and feet.
Symptoms of SCD cause chronic ill health and debilitation and may include:
- Fatigue -: this is the most common symptom that people with SCD experience,
- Sickle Cell Crisis -: patients experience severe pain in the joints, bones, chest and abdomen , this usually occurs when the blood flow is blocked by the sickle red blood cells.
- Jaundice -: this is a yellow staining of the skin and the whites of the eyes
Other symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, coldness of the hands and feet and paler than normal skin or mucous membranes (the tissue that lines your nose, mouth, and other organs and body cavities).
Some of these symptoms are frequently triggered by dehydration, cold temperature, and infection, extreme physical exertion, stress and even pregnancy.
Complications of SCD involve many organs, and if not properly treated can result in death.
The only treatment that has been known to cure SCD is bone marrow transplant which is very expensive, has high risks and may cause death. As a result, in Sub-Saharan Africa, best available treatment aims to avoid Sickle Cell Crisis, relieve symptoms and prevent complications.
To properly manage SCD, the focus must be on early diagnosis, prevention of crisis, and aggressive treatment. This is achieved with available inexpensive prevention and treatment options such as fluids, healthy diet, vaccinations, antibiotic and malaria prophylaxis, folic acid supplements, hydroxyurea and better pain management through early use of pain medications.
If you would like to learn more about Sickle Cell Disease please visit our website or email us. Our goal is to educate people about promoting good health and the prevention of disease
We have in one point in time met someone that has been plagued by this disease or lost someone to this disease. However we are not fully aware of what it maybe, so today we will be looking at the Sickle Cell Disease.
Sickle cell disease is a disease that affects the red blood cells, people with SCD have abnormal hermoglobin in their red blood cells, hermoglobin is a protein in the red blood cell that carries oxygen throughout the body, this disease is inherited i.e. passed on from genes from parents to their children, it is not contagious and cannot be passed down like a cold or infection from someone else. The image below shows the difference in normal blood cells and that of a Sickle cell.
Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells. It helps the blood to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The normal shape of the red blood cells are round, this enables them to move freely throughout the blood vessels, however people that are affected by the SCD usually have hermoglobin S which causes a sickle or moon crescent shape of the red blood cells.
The shape of these hermoglobin S is restricted by it shape and results in blocked blood flow and subsequently the flow of oxygen to various parts of the body which can lead to a variety of complications. We may all wonder who is at risk with this disease, Africans, Indians? is this disease contagious or hereditary?
Join on us Channels TV at 3:30 pm on DSTV (lagos) as we discuss the various symptoms, causes of Sickle Cell Disease and how it can be avoided. As well as we discuss various myths surrounding this disease. Visit our website for more information on SCD.
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