Sickle cell disease

By Nadia & Ananias

What is sickle cell?

Sickle cell is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, in the red blood cell which delivers oxygen to cells in the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent shape. The sickle blood cells are very fragile and are likely to rupture causing the disease. Also blocking blood vessels causing severe pain to the tissues and organs damage. This disease is commonly inherited from both parents genes. Most children with sickle cells are pain free between painful crises, but adolescents and adults may suffer with chronic ongoing pain. This disease is mostly found in Africans and African Americans. 90,000 to 100,000 of African Americans are affiliated with this disorder.

Medical problems

Sickle cell rapidly destroys all blood cells causing major lung, chest, arm, legs and abdominal problems it also causes damage to most organs including the spleen, kidneys and liver. Damage to the spleen makes the disease stronger effortlessly causing major bacterial infections.

How can you be treated?

When parents learn that their baby has sickle cell disease, it's the beginning of a lifelong education process. Knowing as much as you can about the disease can help you control symptoms as they arise and know what to do in emergency situations. Treatment includes:

  • Routine childhood immunization in adulthood are important too.
  • Daily antibiotics from 2 months to 5 years of age to prevent life-threatening infections. This practice stops at age 5 because older children don't have as many severe infections.
  • Multivitamin supplements with iron during infancy.
  • Protein supplements if there is a lag in weight gain.

How can this be prevented?

This disorder is not something you can prevent. But you can go to your doctor and be tested for this. Many couples that do have this disorder should go to their genetic councilor to be more informed on the disorder and the problems it does bring before having a child.