About The Disease
Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that involves the red blood cells. Rather than being round, many of the red blood cells become sickle shaped when they lose oxygen. When sickle shaped, cells are fragile and break down more rapidly than they can be replaced. As a result anemia is consistently present. Sickle cells are also rigid and this feature, plus their shape, result in periodic plugging of blood vessels, thereby preventing the delivery of oxygen to tissues and organs. The anemia and obstruction of blood flow account for most of the health problems that individuals with this disease experience.
The most common and disturbing feature of the disease is the occurrence of pain attacks from the plugging of blood vessels. They may occur at any time and in any part of the body, and are of varying duration and severity. Other features of the disease are fatigue, loss of appetite and higher risk of infections.
At this time there is no cure for sickle cell disease nor can physicians prevent the various health problems from occurring. Treatment consists of managing the health problems as they occur.