Tallahassee, FL. – The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc. (SCDAA) observes National Sickle Cell Awareness Month each year during the month of September. Because it is “back to school” month for most children, SCDAA wants the public to reflect on the children and the adults whose lives, education and careers have been affected by this disease.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes red blood cells to distort, from a rounded disk to a crescent or “sickle” shape, and clog capillaries. Sickle cell disease affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. People of African descent are highest risk, with approximately 1 in 400 affected. Hispanics and those from countries around the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia are also at risk.
Types of Sickle Cell Disease
There are several types of sickle cell disease. The most common are: Sickle Cell Anemia (SS), Sickle-Hemoglobin C Disease (SC), Sickle Beta-Plus Thalassemia and Sickle Beta-Zero Thalassemia.
What is Sickle Cell Trait?
Sickle Cell trait (AS) is an inherited condition in which both hemoglobin A (normal red blood cell) and S (“sickle” abnormal red blood cells) are produced in the red blood cells, always more A than S. Sickle cell trait is not a type of sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell conditions are inherited from parents in much the same way as blood type, hair color and texture, eye color and other physical traits. The types of hemoglobin a person makes in the red blood cells depend upon what hemoglobin genes the person inherits from his or her parents. Like most genes, hemoglobin genes are in two sets…one from each parent
Persons with sickle cell disease can have many complications. There are often problems with normal growth and development. Some individuals may experience pain in their joints and chest pain that is worse when they take a deep breath. Sickle cell disease can cause reoccurring “attacks” of severe pain. These attacks of pain are sudden, sever, and affect many areas of the body. The most common are the arms, abdomen, legs, chest, and back, and can last hours, days, or even weeks.
FAMU – Student Health Services – 2 of 2
National Sickle Cell Awareness Month
Other complications of sickle cell disease can include:
Enlargement of the spleen (early in the disease)
A heart murmur and / or enlargement of the heart
During Sickle Cell Awareness Month we want to remind people how early diagnosis, patient education and proper treatment can considerably improve the quality and length of life of all patients. Student Health Services in conjunction with the Sickle Cell Foundation will offer an educational seminar with FREE screening for Sickle Cell trait on September 13 and September 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Refreshments provided for those that attend the seminar.
Special precautions that people with sickle cell disease should consider include:
The pneumococcal vaccine to prevent infections of the respiratory system
Preventive antibiotics before a dental procedure
A daily folic acid supplement to prevent a deficiency of this nutrient
An annual eye examination to detect problems early
Prompt visits to a health care provider at any sign of infection, including chills and fever
Drinking plenty of fluids to maintain urine flow and to prevent blood clots
Sickle cell is a lifelong, chronic disease with No Cure. Each patient needs to take responsibility for his or her own treatment, learn about the disease and prevent complications for improved quality of life.
For more information or to register for a seminar, contact Jennifer Harrison Hauer RN, BS, MPH, CHES (Health Educator) at (850) 599-3777 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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