The whole world celebrates 19th June as World Sickle Cell Anemia Day. It focuses on raising awareness of the most common genetic disease, also known as Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). In this post, you’ll find out what this disease is and how you can contribute to raising awareness and saving precious lives.
What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that occurs due to a mutation in the gene that makes hemoglobin. Due to this abnormality, the patient’s body doesn’t have the normal hemoglobin in red blood cells. This results in the decreased oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells, which makes a person anemic. The disease is named so because the affected red blood cells assume a sickle-like shape. For an individual to have sickle cell disease, both parents must pass on the defective form the gene. In the case where only one parent passes the gene to the individual, then such individual will have the sickle cell trait. People with the sickle cell trait do not have the disease but can also pass on the trait to their children
The symptoms of sickle cell disease first appear in 5 to 6 months old babies. With time the symptoms become severe and need immediate medical care. Major symptoms include:
- Painful swelling of hands and feet
- Difficulty in breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Pale skin color
- Delayed growth in infants
- Delayed puberty in teens
Prevention and Awareness
For people with sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease, it is recommended to go for genetic counselling before trying to have a child to discuss the different possible preventive measures that can reduce the risk of having a child with sickle cell disease. Whether you are affected by sickle cell disease or not, you can play your role in raising awareness of this disease by:
- Organize an event and tell your family, friends, and other people about this disease.
- Wear red to support those living with the disease.
- Collect funds to let more people know about the disease and help those living with the disorder.
With these little contributions, you can significantly improve the life of an SCD patient.
Living with Sickle Cell Disease
Living with Sickle Cell Disease requires specific certain lifestyle behaviors which can help people to live healthy lives without major complications. The goal here is to reduce the occurrence of major symptoms such as pain episodes, reduce the risk of having major complications that will be detrimental to overall well-being. Here are some tips that can help the fight against this serious condition:
- Get Good Medical Care
The severe symptoms of this disease can make the situation more complex. But good medical care can help avoid this. Regular consultations with a hematologist (a doctor specializing in blood diseases) to manage the disease better.
2.Ensure Regular Checkups
To prevent severe crises, regular checkups are vital for babies, children, and adults.
Common infectious diseases, such as flu, can be life-threatening for children living with sickle cell anemia. Preventive measures against such infections can prolong a patient’s life span.
4.Adopt Healthy Habits
It’s recommended that patients with sickle cell disease should drink 8-10 glasses of water daily and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity can also help but should be done in moderation as strenuous exercises can also trigger Get rest when you’re tired.
5.Keep Checking Recent Studies
Clinical studies are ongoing to find effective treatments for this disease. By checking recent studies frequently, you can find better treatment options and effective new medicines.