Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affects haemoglobin, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute (NHLBI). Haemoglobin is the protein responsible for transporting blood throughout the body and contains disc-shaped red blood cells. Due to their shape, they move easily within the blood vessels. If a patient is diagnosed with sickle cell disease, their red blood cells become crescent or “sickle” shaped and their cells are unable to move easily. Due to this, the blood of the body is heavily reduced.
Due to this blocked flow, problems like stroke, eye problems, infections and episodes of pain can be experienced by the patient. The doctors found that suffering from sickle cell disease also increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Sickle cell disease can also be a lifelong illness and a blood and bone marrow transplant is the only cure for sickle cell disease. There are several treatments that can reduce symptoms and help in living a prolonged life. The doctors could create a treatment plan to reduce your symptoms and maintain your health condition.
As per the NHLBI, patients suffering from sickle cell disease have abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin, in their red blood cells. As mentioned earlier, haemoglobin is a protein inside red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. The NHLBI says, “People who have sickle cell disease inherit two abnormal hemoglobin genes, one from each parent.”
Depending on the condition of the patient, a blood and bone marrow transplant might be the only cure for some patients as it could be difficult for the medical team to keep the patient healthy without the transplant. After early diagnosis, your doctor may recommend medicines to help in chronic pain. Newborn babies with sickle cell disease must be consulted with a haematologist, who is a doctor who specializes in blood diseases such as sickle cell disease. The doctors recommend that a newborn’s first sickle cell disease visit should be within the first eight weeks of the birth. Within older children who have sickle cell disease, the doctors usually prescribe penicillin two times a day as it has been clinically proven to reduce the chance of having a severe infection caused by the pneumococcus bacteria.