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World Sickle Cell Day 2024: Understanding the Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of This Inherited Blood Disorder

World Sickle Cell Day is observed annually on June 19th to increase awareness about sickle cell disease and support the rights of those impacted by it. The event also seeks to encourage early diagnosis, improve access to treatment, and enhance the quality of life for individuals with the disease.

In this article, we explore the causes, types, symptoms, and treatments of sickle cell disease.

Dr. Rahul Bhargava, Principal Director & Chief BMT at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram, explains, “Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder affecting red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Typically, these cells are round and flexible, enabling smooth passage through blood vessels. However, in SCD, a genetic mutation causes them to become crescent-shaped.”

Types of Sickle Cell Disease
Several forms of SCD exist, with sickle cell anemia being the most prevalent. Other types include sickle-hemoglobin C disease and sickle beta-thalassemia. The severity of symptoms can vary based on the specific type.

Causes of Sickle Cell Disease
SCD is inherited from parents. A person develops the disease if they inherit two copies of the abnormal gene, one from each parent. Possessing only one copy (sickle cell trait) does not cause SCD but can be passed to offspring.

Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease
– Painful episodes (crises) due to obstructed blood flow
– Fatigue from insufficient oxygen supply to tissues
– Frequent infections
– Shortness of breath
– Delayed growth in children

Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease
Although there is currently no cure for SCD, treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These treatments include:
– Pain relief during crises
– Folic acid supplements to support healthy red blood cell production
– Antibiotics to prevent infections
– Blood transfusions in severe cases
– Hydroxyurea, a medication that can reduce the frequency of crises

While living with SCD presents ongoing challenges, appropriate treatment and care can enable individuals to lead active and fulfilling lives.

Times Tech Pharma

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