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World Sickle Cell Day 2024: Types, causes, symptoms and treatment of this inherited blood disorder

World Sickle Cell Day is an annual event celebrated on June 19th to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and advocate for the rights of those who are affected by it. The day also aims to promote early diagnosis, access to treatment, and improved quality of life for those affected by the disease

Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Updated on: June 18, 2024 18:15 IST
World Sickle Cell Day 2024
Image Source : FREEPIK Know the types, causes, symptoms and treatment of sickle cell disease.

World Sickle Cell Day is an annual event celebrated on June 19th to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and advocate for the rights of those who are affected by it. The day also aims to promote early diagnosis, access to treatment, and improved quality of life for those affected by the disease. In this article, we have discussed the causes, types, symptoms and treatment for sickle cell disease. 

When we spoke to Dr Rahul Bhargava, Principal Director & Chief BMT, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, regarding sickle cell disease, he said, "Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells, the oxygen carriers in our body. Normally, these cells are round and flexible, allowing them to move easily through blood vessels. But in SCD, a genetic mutation makes them sickle-shaped, like crescent moons."

Types of Sickle Cell Disease:

There are different types of SCD, but the most common is sickle cell anaemia. Others include sickle-hemoglobin C disease and sickle beta-thalassemia. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the type.

What Causes Sickle Cell Disease?

SCD is passed down from parents to children. If you inherit two copies of the abnormal gene, one from each parent, you develop the disease. Inheriting only one copy (sickle cell trait) doesn't cause SCD but can be passed on to future generations.

Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease:

  • Painful episodes (crises) due to blocked blood flow
  • Fatigue from lack of oxygen reaching tissues
  • Frequent infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Delayed growth in children

Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease:

There's no cure for SCD yet, but treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These include:

  1. Pain medication during crises
  2. Folic acid supplements to promote healthy red blood cell production
  3. Antibiotics to prevent infections
  4. Blood transfusions in severe cases
  5. Hydroxyurea is a medication that can reduce the frequency of crises

While SCD is a lifelong challenge, with proper treatment and care, people with SCD can lead active and fulfilling lives.

ALSO READ: World Blood Donor Day 2024: Common myths about blood donation

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