From the Director's Desk: Live a full life while living with Sickle Cell Disease
Millions of people across the globe are affected by sickle cell disease. Nearly 100,000 of those people are right here in the United States.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disease that is present at birth and is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes – one from each parent.
Sickle cells, unlike healthy red blood cells, are not round but are more C-shaped like a farm tool called a “sickle.” These cells become hard and sticky, making it harder for them to carry oxygen through small blood vessels. The sickle cells often get stuck and clog the blood flow, causing pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke. In addition, sickle cells die early, so there is a constant shortage of red blood cells.
People who have sickle cell disease start to show signs of it during the first year of life, usually around 5 months. Once the cells begin to sickle, symptoms such as swelling in the hands and feet, sudden pain, anemia, infection and more begin to occur.
Although sickle cell disease worsens over time, there are treatments available that can prevent complications and lengthen the lives of those who have the condition. Not only that, staying as healthy as possible can help people with sickle cell disease enjoy full lives. This includes drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet and participating in physical activity. It’s important, however, to not overdo the physical activity and to rest when tired.
Additional ways to stay on top of your health if you are living with sickle cell disease includes finding good medical care, getting regular checkups, preventing infections (wash hands, get vaccines, etc.), looking for clinical studies to participate in and finding a good support group.
If you’re interested in learning more about sickle cell disease, click here.
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