1. Sickle cell disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which the red blood cells become hard and sticky and take on a C-shaped “sickle” appearance. When they travel through blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.
2. Sickle cell disease is more common in certain ethnic groups, like people of African descent. This includes African-Americans — among whom one in 12 carries a sickle cell gene. It is also more common in Hispanic-Americans from Central and South America, along with people of Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean descent.
Want to learn more about living with sickle cell disease?
Living with sickle cell: Learning about the disease and how it impacts lives goes in-depth on the disorder and offers five lifestyle tips for living well with the condition.
3. Bone marrow transplant, also known as stem cell transplant, offers the only potential cure. As a result, treatment is usually aimed at avoiding crises, relieving symptoms and preventing complications.
4. In someone with sickle cell disease, red blood cells die within 10 to 20 days and not enough are left to carry oxygen throughout the body, causing anemia. Blood transfusions are used to treat severe anemia.
5. An increased number of newborns with sickle cell disease in the United States are now living to be adults. People with sickle cell disease can lower their chances of difficulties from the disease and enjoy many normal activities by:
Getting regular checkups
Following treatments directed by their doctor, such as taking medications
Preventing infections with simple steps like hand washing and vaccinations
Practicing healthy habits such as drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water per day and eating healthy food
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