If you have polycythemia vera (PV), it’s important to keep regular checkups with your doctor, follow your prescribed treatment plan, and adopt these self-care habits to help manage the disease.

Polycythemia vera (PV) is a rare blood disorder that causes bone marrow to produce too many red blood cells.

It can cause:

  • dry skin
  • poor blood circulation
  • potentially serious complications

Here are eight tips for self-care for living with PV.

Keeping an exercise routine will help you promote better blood flow.

While there are no exact recommendations on the type and frequency of exercises, research shows that combining resistance and circuit training twice a week can be a good starting point.

That said, speak with your doctor to determine what activity level is safest for you.

Smoking increases your chance of getting blood clots.

In addition, it is also associated with more frequent and more significant symptoms. This includes symptoms such as more significant cognitive difficulties and loss of appetite. So, if you smoke, try to quit.

With PV, the turnover of too many RBCs can lead to increased uric acid levels. Too much uric acid can lead to problems like gout or kidney stones. Drinking enough water is important to reduce the chance of these complications.

You can also include fruit and vegetables in your diet, especially those that contain a lot of water, like watermelon or cucumber.

Because PV can cause dry or itchy skin, it’s best to bathe in cool water with gentle soap.

Afterward, pat your skin dry and cover it with lotion. Also, you can speak with your doctor about medications that can help reduce itch, such as antihistamines.

With PV, your skin is more sensitive to the sun.

For this reason, it’s important to always wear sunscreen and protective clothing and try to stay in the shade during peak daylight hours when outdoors.

PV affects your circulation, and being cold can narrow your blood vessels even more.

For this reason, it’s important to dress appropriately in cold weather with items such as gloves, a scarf, and a hat.

Living with PV can be challenging. Consider joining a support group for people with this disease.

Some options include:

What should I avoid with polycythemia vera?

When living with PV, avoid bathing in hot water, such as in hot tubs or showers. Your doctor is also likely to ask you to avoid or stop smoking.

Does drinking a lot of water help polycythemia?

When you have PV, staying hydrated is important. It will help you keep good blood flow and circulation, as well as prevent dehydration.

What is the best management for patients with polycythemia vera?

The treatment for PV is usually low dose aspirin, phlebotomy, and in some cases, drugs that help reduce the number of blood cells. You’ll also be monitored for new blood clots, and you may have to make some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart problems.

PV is a rare condition causing the bone marrow to produce too many red blood cells. This can lead to dry skin, poor circulation, and possibly dangerous complications.

Treatment is available, and adjusting some lifestyle habits like staying active, staying hydrated, and taking care of your skin can help you manage your symptoms.