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What Is Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease

The term Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) describes a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. People with SCD have abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin, in their red blood cells.

Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. “Inherited” means that the disease is passed by genes from parents to their children. Sickle Cell Disease is not contagious. A person cannot catch it, like a cold or infection, from someone else.

Some Forms of Sickle Cell Disease

  • Hemoglobin SS

  • Hemoglobin SC

  • Hemoglobin Sß0 thalassemia

  • Hemoglobin Sß+ thalassemia

  • Hemoglobin SD

  • Hemoglobin SE

Pain Management: Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects nearly 100,000 people in the United States. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Normal red blood cells are round and flexible, which enables them to travel through small blood vessels to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body.

What Causes Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease is caused by a faulty gene that affects how red blood cells develop. If both parents have this faulty gene, there’s a 25% chance of each child they have being born with sickle cell disease.

Symptoms of sickle cell disease

People born with sickle cell disease sometimes experience problems from early childhood, although most children have few symptoms and lead normal lives most of the time.

  • Painful episodes called sickle cell crises, which can be very severe and can last up to a week.

  • An increased risk of serious infections.

  • Anaemia (where red blood cells can’t carry enough oxygen around the body), which can cause tiredness and shortness of breath.

Treatments for sickle cell disease

  1. A blood transfusion may be needed if severe anaemia develops.

  2. A medicine called hydroxycarbamide (hydroxyurea) can reduce the symptoms if they’re interfering with your or your child’s life.

  3. Having regular blood transfusions (usually every 3-4 weeks) may be helpful if problems continue or get worse, or there are signs of damage caused by the condition.

  4. The risk of infections can be reduced by taking daily antibiotics and ensuring you’re fully vaccinated.

  5. Pain can often be treated with ordinary painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, although sometimes treatment with stronger painkillers in hospital may be necessary.

  6. Painful episodes can sometimes be prevented by drinking plenty of fluids and staying warm.

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