One out of every 400 African-Americans in the United States is born with sickle cell disease, a debilitating, extremely painful condition. Patients with sickle cell disease suffer from abnormally shaped, rigid and adhesive red blood cells. These abnormal cells serve as a barrier to blood vessels and cause “sickle cell crises,” an enduring episode that often leaves the sufferer incapacitated.
An individual with sickle cell disease can suffer a crisis at any time – the pain can last for hours, days or even weeks and is often severe enough to require a hospital stay.
These painful flare-ups associated with sickle cell anemia can be more frequent and severe in cooler temperatures.
Although medical experts can’t clearly explain why, there are studies that have found sickle cell sufferers consistently report acute pain after exposure to cold, usually within a few hours of initial exposure.
Cooler temperatures cause narrowing of blood vessels in the skin, hands, feet, nose, and ears. This response, as well as cold sensitivity
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