Recognising Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell Anemia

Recognising Sickle Cell Anemiarecognising Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell disease is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect the red blood cells. The most serious type is called sickle cell anemia. This article looks at recognising Sickle Cell Anemia signs and symptoms.

Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape.

Sickle cell disease mainly affects people of African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean and Asian origin. In the UK, it’s particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background.

Sickle cell disease is a serious and lifelong condition, although long-term treatment can help manage many of the problems associated with it.

Symptoms of sickle cell disease

People born with sickle cell disease sometimes experience problems from early childhood, although most children have few symptoms and lead normal lives most of the time.

The main symptoms:

  • painful episodes called sickle cell crisis, which can be very severe and can last up to a week
  • an increased risk of serious infections
  • anaemia (where red blood cells can’t carry enough oxygen around the body), which can cause tiredness and shortness of breath

Treatments for sickle cell disease

People with sickle cell disease will need specialist care throughout their lives.

A number of treatments are available to help manage problems caused by the condition. For example:

  • painful episodes can sometimes be prevented by drinking plenty of fluids and staying warm
  • pain can often be treated with ordinary painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, although sometimes treatment with stronger painkillers in hospital may be necessary
  • the risk of infections can be reduced by taking daily antibiotics and ensuring you’re fully vaccinated Sickle cell disease is very variable, but most children with it will lead happy and normal lives.

However, it can still be a serious condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. 

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How to perform CPR on a Child

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Paediatric First Aid manual

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About The Author

Cory Jones

Cory is a graduate of the prestigious WEMSI school (Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician), and a qualified teached with a masters degree in Environmental Management. He has lead expeditions worldwide (currently an International Mountain Leader) and is a director of Outdoor First Aid Limited. Cory Jones has worked in the outdoor industry for over 30 years. He first ran first aid training courses for the Red Cross in 2001. Cory has been a provider for SQA, ITC, REC, Highfield, Open College Network over the years. In 2008 Cory set up First Aid Academy in the Lancashire area and won the ‘New Business of the Year 2008 Award’. By 2010 he was running nearly 250 first aid training courses a year. Today, Cory is a director of Outdoor First Aid Limited as well as being a founder of the First Aid Training Co-operative.