Sickle cell disease is a genetic condition that affects the body’s red blood cells. It occurs when a child receives two sickle cell genes—one from each parent. In someone living with this disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”.
When sickled red blood cells travel through small 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. The pain experienced by people living with sickle cell disease can vary in intensity and last for a few hours to a few weeks.
Sickle cell disease is most often discovered at birth during routine newborn screening tests at the hospital.
There is no single best treatment for all people with sickle cell disease. Treatment options are different for each person depending on their symptoms. However, only about 1 in 4 patients with sickle cell disease receive the standard of care described in current guidelines, and many studies have shown that patients do not receive treatment for their pain as soon as, or in appropriate doses as, other patients.
A simple blood test can determine if you have Sickle Cell Trait. Talk to your healthcare provider about testing.