Sickle-Cell Anemia

Knowing the facts

What is Sickle-Cell Anemia?

SCD is a blood disorder that affects hemoglobin, protein found in red blood cells. Red blood cells with normal hemoglobin (hemoglobin A or HbA) move easily through the bloodstream. More than 70,000 Americans have sickle cell anemia. And about 2 million Americans — including 1 in 12 African Americans — have sickle cell anemia, which means they carry a single genefor the disease and can pass this gene along to their children, but do not have the disease itself.

How does someone get this disorder?

This disorder occurs when a person inherits two abnormal genes (one from each parent) which causes their red blood cells to change shape. This person is initially born with this disorder. Instead of being flexible and disc-shaped they are more stiff and curved like. The shape is similar to a crescent moon.

What happens when you have it/ Symptoms

Unlike normal Red blood cells that last about 4 months in the bloodstream, fragile sickle cells break down after only about 10 to 20 days, which usually causes Anemia. People with sickle cell anemia can also experience complications from impaired blood circulation and infection-fighting problems. These include a higher risk of certain infections and stroke as well as a condition called acute chest syndrome, which is caused by inflammation, infection, or occlusions (blockages) of blood vessels in the lungs by sickled cells. Sickle cell anemia is not contagious, so you can't catch it from someone else or pass it to another person like a cold or an infection.

Treatments to stay healthy

  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
  • Take medications, including folic acid supplements, as prescribed.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid extreme cold or heat.
  • Exercise regularly, but in moderation. Exercise is important for staying healthy.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking, which can aggravate sickle cell disease and its symptoms.