On this day, around the globe, people everywhere help to celebrate World Sickle Cell day, spreading awareness about this disease and acknowledging those that are fighting it. LiveMD is proud to do their part and help educate others on this disease.
What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle Cell Anemia is a genetic disease that affects the hemoglobin molecules in the red blood cells of the body. The hemoglobin is responsible for transferring oxygen throughout the body and these molecules become misshapen in someone with this disease. The average red blood cell is round or disc shaped, which allows for easy passage throughout the body. With Sickle Cell Anemia, the hemoglobin can become very stiff, like a rod, and causes the red blood cells to take on a shape like a sickle or crescent moon. This curved, crescent shape makes it very difficult for the red blood cells to properly flow through the body. They can stick to the walls of arteries and veins, inhibiting the flow of the oxygen that they are carrying. When oxygen flow is slowed, a painful attack called crises occurs which may require a visit to the hospital. Decreased oxygen may also lead to organ damage.
The average red blood cell will live for up to 4 months after which it will die and the body will create new cells to replace it. In someone with Sickle Cell, red blood cells only live up to 20 days. This means that the body must work extra hard to replace the lost cells and often is unable to keep up to this demand. Due to this, the red blood cell count is often lower in someone with this disease, causing a disorder called anemia. Anemia can result in fatigue and a decrease in energy.
What are the Symptoms of Sickle Cell?
This disease is usually first diagnosed in young children at the very early age of 6 months. The most common symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Unexplained fussiness in infants and children
- Swelling of the hands and feet that is often painful
- Sudden, painful episodes called crises
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Complications from organ damage
What Can I do to Help?
There is no cure for Sickle Cell Anemia. Advancements in technology have increased the average life expectancy from 14 years to 60 years for those with the disease. By helping to spread awareness about this disease and raising funds to help with research and medical development, we can all do our part to one day find a cure. As stated on the World Sickle Cell Day website, “Awareness and action will change a curative into a cure!” For more information on this disease and what you can do to participate on June 19th, visit http://worldsicklecellday.webs.com/ .
If you have questions, suffer from this disease or suspect that your child may have Sickle Cell Anemia, don’t hesitate. Visit LiveMD at www.mylivemd.com today. Our team of doctors are waiting to speak with you about all of your health care concerns.
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