Sickle cell is a disease I haven’t been very aware of or even merely interested about till about two years ago, it sounds very ignorant of me I agree but my mentality a few years ago was “why am I worrying about something that doesn’t affect me in the slightest” I’m really eating my words now because last year my mother literally forced me to go to a doctors appointment,all the consistent nagging was really aggravating me so I booked a blood test as my mother thought I had sickle cell anaemia as I used to nap about 5/6 times a day, excessive amounts I know! First things first I had my blood test and got told I got the sickle cell trait, when my doctor was explaining to me about it I wasn’t even awake barely to listen so I went home to research, I found out a fair bit of information from online, I really wanted to know about my sleeping and why it was awfully bad one of the side effects was fatigue so it was explained. The sickle cell disease or even trait can come from one parent or both, I did some digging and as far as my mother was concerned it didn’t come from her side, I asked my father it was a straight up NO!
“When I gave birth I had O recess negative ‘rare blood’ group and antibody D injection so the blood wouldn’t clot, doctors would’ve said at birth if I had the trait or disease” – My mother
“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family & the world is a healthy you”
What is sickle cell?
SICKLE CELL: Sickle cell is a disorder of the haemoglobin in the red blood cells.
Normal blood cell (A) Sickle Cell blood cell (B)
The difference between the two is clearly the shape, however, people with SCD have abnormal haemoglobin called haemoglobin S or sickle haemoglobin in their red blood cells.
Haemoglobin: A red protein responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood vertebrates.
Haemoglobin S: An abnormal type of haemoglobin that can be inherited from your parents, haemoglobin S causes red blood cells to become very stiff and oddly shaped, instead of having normal circular blood cells like exhibit (A) the red blood cells become sickle cell shaped in an exhibit (B)
People with SICKLE CELL CONDITION are born with the condition, it’s not contagious. Sickle cell genes come in pairs, you inherit one set from your father and the other from your mother, a child has to inherit a faulty gene from each parent.
However, a person who receives one sickle cell gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other has a condition called the SICKLE CELL TRAIT.
Sickle cell is a serious inherited condition affecting the blood and a various amount of organs in the body, it affects the red blood cells which cause sickling which produces episodes of pain and other symptoms, in-between episodes of sickling, people with sickle cell disease are normally well, however, long-term complications can occur, finding out if you have sickle cell from early can help with treatment process.
These painful episodes are referred to as the sickle cell crisis, it’s treated with strong painkillers such as morphine.
The main symptoms of the sickle cell disease are anaemia.
Whats sickle cell anaemia?
Sickle cell anaemia is the name of a specific form of sickle cell disease which is a form of two sickle cell genes.
Blood loss is the most common cause of anaemia, especially iron deficiency. Heavy menstrual periods or bleeding in the digestive or urinary tract can cause a serious amount of blood loss.
Can you die from anaemia?
When you’re anaemic your heart must pump more blood around to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood cells, this can lead to an enlarged heart, however, inherited anaemia like sickle cell anaemia can cause life-threatening complications.
Can you cure anaemia?
Anaemia can be cured by a blood transfusion or if you change your diet will allow the body to naturally build red blood cells back up.
Blood Transfusion: A blood transfusion is when you’re given blood from a donor, very safe procedure and can save lives. A blood transfusion can replace the blood you’ve lost or just replace the liquid or cells found in blood.
SYMPTOMS OF SICKLE CELL/ANAEMIA
- Pain Crisis
- Splenic sequestration
- Bacterial infections
- Liver Congestion
- Lung Injury
- Leg Ulcers
- Eye Damage
- Aseptic Necrosis
Fatigue: When tiredness is overwhelming and isn’t relieved by sleep or rest.
Sickle cell crisis: Sickle cell crisis can cause pain as blood vessels can become blocked or the defective blood cells can damage organs in the body.
Dactylitis: Inflammation of your digits (Finger or toe) The word (Dactyl) comes from the Greek word “Daktylos” meaning finger in Greek but can refer to both.
Arthritis: A common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint, in the UK around 10 million people have this condition.
Splenic sequestration: A problem with the spleen that can occur a lot in people who have sickle cell, when a lot of red blood cells gets trapped, the spleen can get damaged and not work how it should.
Liver congestion: Represents the increase of blood in a territory, due to dilatation of small vessels.
Lung Injury: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition where the lungs can’t provide the body’s vital organs with enough oxygen.
Leg Ulcers: leg ulcer is a long-lasting (chronic) sore that takes more than four to six weeks to heal.
Eye Damage: The most common type of eye complications due to the sickle cell is “Sea fan-shaped frond” of new retinal blood vessel growth.
Aseptic Necrosis: A bone condition that results from poor blood supply to an area of bone, causing localized bone death. This is a serious condition because the dead areas of bone do not function normally, are weakened, and can collapse.
Hopefully, this diagram can you give a better understanding of how the sickle cell works.
The only possible cure for sickle cell is bone marrow transplant as known as a stem cell, but this transplant is only possible for the limited amount of affected individuals who have the suitable blood donor.
Bone Marrow Transplant: A bone marrow transplant replaces damaged blood cells with healthy ones.
Stem cell transplants are complicated procedures with significant risks involved.
Did you know?
Sickle cell is the most hereditary hematologic disorder in the world. It primarily affects Black Africans and Americans, as well as some persons of Mediterranean, East Indian or Latin American heritage. About 8% of the African-American population carries the sickle cell trait.
SCD is inherited from both parents, sickle cell trait is inherited by one parent.
SCD can affect anyone, but mainly people from African & Caribbean backgrounds.
1 in 76 babies born in the UK carries the sickle cell trait.
Approximately 15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell disorder.
Approximately 350 babies with sickle cell disorder are born in the UK every year.
A simple blood test can show whether you have sickle cell disorder or the trait.
Children with SCD are at an increased risk for strokes, the risk is highest between the ages of 2 and 16.
Episodes of pain may occur in sickle cell disorder and are referred to as a sickle crisis.
Twenty-five years ago, a person with sickle cell disease was not expected to live to adulthood, and the average lifespan was 21 years. Today, the outlook is much more optimistic, and many people are living beyond age 50.
Sickle cell disease is thought to have developed in areas of the world where malaria is present because sickle cell trait provides some protection from malaria.
This blog is short, sweet and hopefully full of enough information, health is important to me and it should be important to you too.
No one has got you like you have yourself, no one will care about your health as much as you either, to find out if you have sickle cell or even the trait is the quickest procedure a five minute blood test can determine whether you have the trait or disease, finding out could benefit you, you could have treatments put in place to help yourself deal with it, or if you have unexplainable sickness this could be part of the problem.
Think about it five years maybe even ten years, you want a family, would you rather find out now? Or later? That you have a trait or disease that you can limit, or find out later with very little options, the only thing keeping us alive is our health, if you can’t sustain that, then death can be a very quick process.
Any illness whether small or big can kill you, not everything has a cure, but you can carry out procedures that can limit it.
Before I started writing this I hardly knew anything about sickle cell or anaemia, if it wasn’t for my mum constantly pushing to get my blood test done, I would’ve never known anything about this I wouldn’t have written this blog, but I’m really thankful that she pushed me to get out of bed and go to the doctors, I’ve been ill with symptoms that lead back to the sickle trait, and they’ve also been confirmed by my doctor as I don’t want to misdiagnose myself, finding out information on this has been easy but understanding it and literally pushing it through my brain has been hard, when I first found out about sickle cell I literally thought it was an illness for just black and Asians which turned out to be untrue, anyone can get it, but it’s mostly are races that get it, don’t believe everything you hear or see, it can be incorrect (but I’ve done my research nothing here is incorrect)
I fully believe the cure for every disease known to mankind is out there somewhere, whether it’s being hidden, yet to be discovered or even trapped in someone’s mind, its somewhere.
“Push yourself because, no one else is going to do it for you”
I don’t expect everyone reading this to go and get a blood test but even if ten people do, I’m helping ten people help themselves, at the end of the day I’m fine I’ve found out what I have, I can do exercise, buy tablets, see doctors etc… but you can’t if you don’t do a test.
~June 19th Is Sickle Cell Day~
Furthermore I do have an announcement before I fully wrap this up, I won’t be releasing a blog till October, I really want to lift a few projects off of the ground this year that I have been working on, I also fully need to rebrand my blog properly, life has got on top of me and I haven’t had a chance to start it, so I’m taking a few months off and when I come back I’ll be better.
I want my blog/name to be known in the next two years, I’m getting there slowly but surely!
Thank you for taking time out to read, hopefully, you’ve learnt something new today.