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Take Care Community Outreach, Inc.

Dedicated to promoting health through advocacy & education

My Blog


Sickle Cell Awareness

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 8:49 AM
Fall is upon us Take Care community! I hope this months blog finds you all in good health!

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This month I am writing about Sickle Cell Awareness. Now obviously if you, or someone close to you suffers from this disease you are most likely well educated. On the other hand, if you have never been personally affected by it, it can be hard to understand. I have a brother in law whose father suffered and ultimately lost his life from complications of sickle cell, therefore its important to me to share what I've learned.
What is Sickle Cell?

For starters, there are many forms of sickle cell disease. To keep things simple I'll focus on the most common form being Sickle Cell Anemia (also know by medical term of Hemoglobin SS or SCD). 

This is a disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. This means the cells are crescent shaped, unlike the smooth edged round red blood cells of a non-afflicted person. (MedlinePlus

Normal red blood cells have a very important job of carrying oxygen throughout the body to vital organs and tissues via hemoglobin. Sickled cells are often stiff and sticky. Because of their shape, they tend to block blood flow in blood vessels of the limbs and organs. This blocked blood flow causes pain, laboratory abnormalities and even organ damage. When this happens it is called a "crisis".(

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How is Sickle Cell Acquired?

This question in itself can be complicated to answer. SCD is inherited from BOTH parents. This means both parents carry the sickle cell trait and in turn pass the actual disease on to their children. 

Passage Rate Fact:1 in 4 children born to parents that both have a sickle cell trait will get the disease(MedlinePlus

If you inherit the sickle cell gene from only one parent you will have the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT). People with only the sickle cell trait do not have the symptoms of the disease, but must be cautious in having children with another person who also carries the trait. (MedlinePlus 

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Sickle cell is most prominent in the African American community, but also seen in those of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern decent. Caucasians are rarely affected.

Symptoms as with any disease can vary greatly from patient to patient. As said before when symptoms appear this is referred as a crisis. Patients may experience: pain, swelling, fatigue, shortness of breath rapid heart rate, and pale yellow looking skin also known as jaundice. 
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Most symptoms come from the blockage of blood cells and inability of the sickle shaped cells to carry hemoglobin (oxygen) to vital tissues appropriately. Most people affected start to show signs and symptoms of the disease around the age of 4 months and older. (MedlinePlus

Treatments for crisis include:

  • Hydration by IV fluids
  • Pain medication 
  • Antibiotics to help prevent infection, and 
  • Blood transfusion to replace blood with cells that are not sickle shaped.

     A thorough medical screening and history by a medical professional is encouraged for anyone at risk. There are special genetic test that can be performed for "carrier" parents to prevent passing the disease to their children. 

     Patients with the disease must take care to stay hydrated with a healthy immune system including all vaccinations and routine medical exams. Family and caregivers are encouraged to stay educated, supportive and vigilant about disease and crisis.
                             TAKE CARE COMMUNITY. BE WELL!

In loving memory of Mr. Pender Madyun, gone but not forgotten!
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Take Care Community Outreach Volunteer
~Nurse Denise S., RN, CEN

Categories: Nurse Denise's Notes