Blood Diseases

Sickle Cell Anemia Can be Controlled!

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Sickle Cell Anemia is one of the few diseases most African–Americans know affects them in higher numbers than other ethnic groups. Surprisingly however, other ethnic groups, particularly those of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent, are also at risk. There is much mythology about Sickle Cell, its causes and prevention that modern science has demystified in recent years.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Anemia occurs when red blood cells that in healthy individuals are fat, round, flexible and donut–shaped, become thin, elongated, brittle and sickle–shaped. This change in form and function interferes with the cell’s ability to do its primary work – delivering oxygen to other cells and vital organs of the body. Instead, these red blood cells clump together and become sticky and immobile. They clog the walls of blood vessels and prevent other cells from receiving vital nutrients they need to regenerate and keep us healthy. Red blood cells affected by this disease do not live as long as normal red blood cells. They die after about 20 days and often leave an anemic patient with a weakened immune system in their wake. Sickle cell patients often suffer from deep fatigue and are at risk for numerous infections, stroke and circulatory problems.

How is Sickle Cell Disease Transmitted?

According to the National Institutes of Health, "The presence of two defective genes is needed for Sickle Cell Anemia. If each parent carries one sickle cell gene and one normal gene, each child has a 25% chance of inheriting two defective genes and having Sickle Cell Anemia. Children also stand a 25% chance of inheriting two normal genes and not having the disease and a 50% chance of being an unaffected carrier like the parents." This complex of possibilities points out the critical need for regular testing.

Because the blood test to detect the presence of the sickle cell gene is not a routine part of the pre–marital blood test required by most states, testing specifically for the sickle cell gene before marriage of both partners is highly recommended if the couple intends to have children. Testing results can inform Black couples of their risk of having children affected with Sickle Cell Anemia. Hospitals routinely test African American newborns for Sickle Disease in the first days of life. The test can determine the presence of the disease as well as the presence of the gene.

Symptoms & Treatment

People who have Sickle Cell Disease are prone to have a "sickle cell crisis" from time to time. During these periods, patients can experience extreme fatigue, body aches and swelling, particularly in the arms and legs. These symptoms are often treated at home with pain medication, lots of fluids and bed rest. In a more serious crisis, hospitalization may be in order where blood transfusions to increase oxygenation in the blood and antibiotic therapy to halt the spread of infections are routine treatments. In the most serious cases, some sickle cell patients receive bone marrow transplants.

A daily regimen of folic acid supplements and pain control medications are typical treatments most sickle cell patients live with for their entire lives. If you have the disease, take precautions to avoid over–exertion, extremes of heat or cold, dehydration and exposure in places like hospitals and public spaces where germs and contaminants that could lead to a serious infectious disease run rampant.

Science is making great strides in genetic testing that may one day lead to a cure for Sickle Cell Disease. In the meantime, with proper oversight, most patients can lead close to normal lives. African Americans are encouraged to give blood often through the American Red Cross or their local blood bank. Since our community is disproportionately affected by Sickle Cell Disease, your blood donation may help a child, a neighbor or family member improve their chances of leading a normal life.

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0 guest 2009-01-23 19:21
It is good that they are learning to control Sickel Cell. Another blood diease that affects many Afro Americans is Hemophilia. There are many problems with Hemophilia now but hopefully they will work hard at research and study like the researchers of Sickle Cell and solve the problems.
A similiar problem at hand is the hemophilia community especially in Illinois. The hemophilia doctors, nurses, and social workers in many Illinois healthcare treatement centers are very abusive, harsh, cold, criminal-minded , uncaring, neglectful and too hard on patients. Patients depend on these doctors because because they want their medicine and to live and there aren't too many doctors available. Doctors are making the hemophilia patients have too many Emergency Room Visits and hospital and clinic visits when they can treat it at home most of the time. Doctors are trying to greedly make extra money off the patients and make them get extra ER visits and, unnecessary surgeries and other test that they do not need. Docotrs are prying on a few patients who they think are stupid and over billing them and making them come to the doctors a lot and not servicing a large variety of patients. The hemophilia doctors and nurses in Illinois need to be audited. They are out of date with their care, the doctors are tool old and do not study and their treatment is really too primitive and overblown and out of proportion to be dealing with needles, syringes and other intricate supplies. They need a new staff of more younger and experiences doctors and nurses. The doctors are grumpy and do not want you to page them or call them. The nurses are irritable and grumpy and do not want to be bothered and make the patients care difficult and uncomfortable because they do not want to work in the first place. They yell at the patients and cause them stress and emotional damage. They cause abuse in the patients families and the doctors and nurses also appear to be too overstressed with hemophilia and have a sickness theirself.
These treatment centers for adults and children are mainly the problem: Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Illinois Hospital, Michael Reese Hospital, Cook County Stroger Hospital, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke Hospital, and Illinois Masonic Hospital- all in Illinois, seem to be the main problem Hemophilia Treatment Centers that need correction and improvement. The patients just cry all the time and then they make them go to a lot of clinic appointment and the doctors threaten them to look like they are perfect to make their reports look good and successful. They don't give them all the medicine they need. They experience many bleeds because the doctors won't give them their Factor to use at home. They try to get them in the Emergency Room then hospital so they can make more money of of them. Hemophilia medicine is very expensive and doctors get greedy off patients. They make them do extra strenuous activites so they will need more Factor from the doctors and the doctors can make more money. The are viewed as specimens and not human beings. The pressure is really bad on children and adults to be perfect and not get bleeds-to look perfect. No one is perfect-not even those who don't have hemophilia. The doctors and nurses are harsh and mean to patients when they get a bleed. It is just sad that they try so hard to live a normal life and these greedy doctors try to make them look bad to make a buck. They should have a heart for Hemophilia! The patients suffer from doctor's abuse. This is definately true in Chicago and Illinois treatment Centers. Hopefully they will resolve these problems soon and the hemophilia patients like Sickle Cell patients can live a normal life.
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