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Sickle Cell

What is Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited blood disorder caused by abnormalities with red blood cells.

Red blood cells are disc-shaped and flexible with a main purpose to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of body. The oxygen is carried by an iron-rich protein called haemoglobin.

When the haemoglobin in blood cells is defective, the cells stiffen and form a crescent (or sickle) shape leaving them unable to move around as easily. This can lead to small blood vessels’ getting blocked, preventing the oxygen from going to where it is needed, which can cause severe pain and damage to tissues and organs.

What Causes Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Sickle cell anaemia is caused by an abnormal change in the gene that instructs the body to produce haemoglobin. Everyone has two copies of the gene for haemoglobin; one is passed down from each parent. To inherit sickle cell anaemia, you have to inherit the defective gene from both parents.

If you inherit one defective gene from one parent, you will not suffer from the disorder but will carry the sickle cell trait. People who carry the trait are likely to have some sickle cells in their blood but these cells are likely to produce normal haemoglobin leaving the person to not experience any symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS?

Sickle cell anaemia is caused by an abnormal change in the gene that instructs the body to produce haemoglobin. Everyone has two copies of the gene for haemoglobin; one is passed down from each parent. To inherit sickle cell anaemia, you have to inherit the defective gene from both parents. If you inherit one defective gene from one parent, you will not suffer from the disorder but will carry the sickle cell trait. People who carry the trait are likely to have some sickle cells in their blood but these cells are likely to produce normal haemoglobin leaving the person to not experience any symptoms.

Day to day guidelines helping suffers stay healthy

Following simple lifestyle advice can help reduce the risk of experiencing a sickle cell crisis. Some of the main points are:

  1. Nourishing diet
  2. Regular physical activities
  3. Get plenty of rest
  4. Drink plenty of water daily (8-10 glasses for adults)
  5. Regular Vitamin D intake to increase Calcium absorption
How Can I Be Tested?

Taking a simple blood test carried out by your doctor can determine if you have the sickle cell trait or if you have the illness.

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