Legon: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Sickle Cell Disease.

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Nobody wishes to be sick. Sometimes we lie and say we’re sick when we want to avoid something, but nobody actually means that. But there are some people who are born with conditions outside beyond control which makes them sick all the time. One such condition is Sickle Cell Disease.

Here are some things to know about people with SCD.

  • Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder, meaning that it’s inherited from parents who have the sickle cell gene.
  • People with SCD have their red blood cells hard and sticky. They also look like a sickle (farm tool) or a crescent, hence the name.
  • They are immune to malaria. Men with SCD experience painful erection that lasts more than 4 hours, called priapism.

 

  • Pain

People with SCD have long periods of pain in the lower back, legs, arms, abdomen, and chest

called crises. This happens when sickle cells stick together and block blood flow. Pain occurs

without warning, may be mild to severe, and last any length of time. Warm baths and massages can reduce pain.

 

  • Triggers

The slightest thing can trigger a crisis. Extreme heat or cold, or any fast changes in temperatures, could set off a crisis. Stress, lack of oxygen (high altitudes are usually a not-not for SCD), heavy physical labour, dehydration, and infections can also be triggers.

 

  • Treatment and cure

So far the only known cure with high success rate is the bone marrow transplant. A donor with matching Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) is needed for the transplant.  These treatments give people with SCD the chance to live longer lives with little complications.

 

  • Currently, the life expectancy for SCD is 50 years and over.

 

  • Not contagious

SCD is hereditary, meaning that you get it if both your parents have the trait and transfer it to you. It is definitely not contagious. And it isn’t cos of some spiritual something. So instead of shunning people with SCD, you should be warm and caring towards them.

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