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Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly an abnormal type of hemoglobin, hemoglobin (S). Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels.
When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood flow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes the complications of sickle cell disease. There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell affects people in two ways—the Sickle Cell Trait or Sickle Cell Disease. With the Sickle Cell Trait, you can be a carrier of Sickle Cell Disease. People who have Sickle Cell Trait do not have symptoms of the disease. However, if two individuals with the Sickle Cell Trait have a child, there is a 50% chance that they will produce a child with the disease.
The disease also can result in disability development or death in children and individuals in their early adulthood years if not properly treated.
Sickle Cell Disease can cause pain which is referred to as a "Sickle Cell Crisis”, resulting in a blood cell pile-up and eventually a blockage.
This is dangerous as it can cause damage to internal organs and result in damage to the heart, the brain, lungs, and the kidneys.
Sickle Cell Symptoms
Sickle Cell Anemia is usually tested and diagnosed in infancy, however if you or your child begin to experience the following medical problems, please seek immediate attention.
- Swelling in the hands or feet
- Abdominal swelling
- Pale skin or nail beds
- Yellow tint (skin or whites of the eyes)
- Ay signs or symptoms of stroke