World Sickle Cell Day
World Sickle Cell Day is observed each year on June 19. The observation is intended to raise awareness of sickle cell disease, as well as the challenges patients encounter. Sickle cell anemia is a genetic red blood cell disorder.
On 22nd December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognises sickle cell disease as a public health problem and “one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases.” The resolution calls for members to raise awareness of sickle cell on June 19th of each year at national and international level.
Sickle cell disorders are a group of illnesses which affect your red blood cells. Sickle cell is a genetic condition, which means it is passed on from your parents and you are born with it; you cannot catch it from other people.
Sickle cell disorders causes your normally round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and sickle shaped, stopping the blood cells, and the oxygen they carry, from being able to move freely around the body and causing pain. This can cause episodes of severe pain. These painful episodes are referred to as sickle cell crisis. They are treated with strong painkillers such as morphine to control the pain.
Over time people with sickle cell can experience damage to organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, heart and spleen. Death can also result from complications of the disorder. Treatment of sickle cell mostly focuses on preventing and treating complications.
Symptoms of sickle cell disorder
Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia usually appear around five months of age and they vary from person to person and may change over time.
Patients with sickle cell disorder suffer from anemia as their red blood cells die easily leading to shortage of healthy cells. The body does not get enough oxygen without adequate red blood cells, and this causes fatigue.
Episodes of pain are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia but it varies from person to person. It can last for a few hours to a few weeks. Swelling of hands and feet and frequent infections are common.