Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects the red blood cells, causing the cell to change
shape. It can be a very painful disease. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a substance that carries oxygen from the air into the lungs to all parts of the body.
Normal blood cells contain hemoglobin "A" they are soft, round, and can easily pass through tiny vessels. People With sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain hemoglobin "S" an abnormal type of
hemoglobin. These cells become sickle (crecent) shaped, stiff and sticky which have difficulty passing through small blood vessels.
When sickle shaped cells block blood vessels, less blood can reach the different areas of the body that
are blocked by the crecent shape cells. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood flow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes complications of sickle cell disease. Normally, red blood cells live
for about 120 days before new cells replace them, red blood cells containing the hemoglobin "S" do not live as long as normal red blood cells.
( They only live for around 15 days) The early breakdown of the red blood cells decreases the amount of hemoglobin in the blood to carry oxygen, this causes anemia of which the disease is also known as
"Sickle Cell Anemia".
Types of Sickle Cell Disease
There are several types of sickle cell disease. The most common are: Sickle Cell Anemia (SS), Sickle-Hemoglobin C Disease (SC), Sickle-Hemoglobin D Disease (SD), Sickle-Hemoglobin E Disease (SE), Sickle Beta-Plus Thalassemia and Sickle Beta-Zero Thalassemia.
What Is Sickle Cell Trait?
Sickle cell trait occurs when a person has one working gene "A" and one altered gene "S", they are also called carrier. Sickle cell trait is not a disease. But through research we have found that carriers of the trait have been afftected in several ways including pain. People with sickle cell trait can not tell they have it unless they have been tested.
How Is Sickle Cell Disease Inherited?
Sickle cell disease is inherited when one person receives an altered gene "S", from each of their " Carrier" parents. Carrier parents have a one-in-four chance of having an affected child and a one-in-two chance of having a child who is a "carrier".
Test your knowledge on Sickle Cell Disease with a mini quiz and learn more on what steps SCD patients must take to control their crisis.