World Sickle Cell Awareness Day

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world sickle cell awareness day

Observe World Sickle Cell Awareness Day on June 19.

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that affects the red blood cells. Defective hemoglobin genes cause sickle cell disease. People inherit two hemoglobin genes, one from each parent. If only one of the hemoglobin genes is defective, the person will carry the sickle cell trait. They will not, however, experience symptoms. Carrying the sickle cell trait means, though, that you can pass it on to your children. Learn about this disease on World Sickle Cell Awareness Day.

Sickle cell disease occurs when both of the hemoglobin genes inherited by their parents are defective. The shape of the red blood cells are deformed, causing them to function abnormally. In addition, they die too quickly, for example, within 20 days. In those without sickle cell disease, healthy red blood cells live for around 120 days. They then die and are replaced with new ones.

The deformed red blood cells take the shape of a sickle, which is similar to a crescent moon shape. The shape of the cell also poses another problem. As a result of the shape, red blood cells have difficulty moving through blood vessels. Sometimes, sickle cells get stuck and create a blockage of blood flow. Blockages in the blood vessels can lead to inadequate amounts of blood circulating through the body. This decreased blood flow to organs, muscles, and bones can, therefore, lead to potentially life threatening health issues.

Causes of Sickle Cell Disease

The most common symptoms of sickle cell disease are anemia and pain in the extremities. These painful events are called a sickle cell crisis. Fatigue, weakness, jaundice, shortness of breath, and a pale appearance occur because of sickle cell anemia.

Sickle cell crisis occurs when the sickle cells accumulate in the blood vessels and block the blood flow to certain parts of the body. These sickle cell crisis symptoms can be extremely painful. They may also require a stay in the hospital. Sickle cell crisis can last anywhere from a couple of hours to many days. They may occur very rarely or frequently, depending on the person.

Recognizing Symptoms and Understanding Treatments on World Sickle Cell Awareness Day

Recognizing and seeking treatment for sickle cell crisis is imperative. The following are symptoms one might experience during a sickle cell crisis:

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath. This may subside on its own, but it is still important to call the doctor managing the disease and inform them even if the symptoms go away on their own. That goes for all of the symptoms listed here. Do not mistake the symptoms disappearing for a sign that you are fine.
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Severe pain in the hands or feet
  • Severe back pain
  • Unexplained weakness or sudden weakness
  • Tingling in the hands or feet
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Sudden difficulty with coordination and balance
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking/jumbled speech or an inability to talk
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Severe headache
  • Fever over 101 degrees
  • Severe cough
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Erections that last longer than 2 hours/very painful erections
  • Severe pain that cannot be controlled with the usual method of pain management, either over the counter or prescription.
  • Frequent urination and open ulcers are also symptoms that need to be addressed by a doctor.
  • Babies – Screened at Birth

    Sickle cell disease can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Currently, most states in this country screen newborn babies for sickle cell disease before they leave the hospital. Babies can also be tested for the disease before they are born. Parents who carry the trait may want to seek genetic counseling before becoming pregnant in order to discuss the chances of having a baby with the disease.

    Treating sickle cell disease requires routine doctors visits and routine testing, as most chronic illnesses do. There is no cure for sickle cell disease, so it must be monitored regularly in order to minimize potential for sickle cell crises. Generally, sickle cell disease symptoms are treated as they appear.

    For these reasons, parents of children with sickle cell disease must be their child’s advocate and learn about the disease. This helps prevent infection, anemia, or sickle cell crisis. Children with the disease can sometimes develop more slowly and hit puberty later than what is typical. Immunizations are critical for children with sickle cell. Because sickle cell makes it more difficult to fight off infections and viruses, immunizations must be kept up throughout their lifetime.

    Personalized Cause and Sickle Cell Disease Awareness

    Personalized Cause® is an awareness accessory brand that specializes in custom awareness ribbons. We also carry a variety of other awareness accessories, such as classic awareness ribbons, fabric awareness ribbons, and awareness wristbands. Custom awareness ribbons are a unique product that allows customers to personalize awareness ribbons with any name, date, message, or phrase.

    This is made even more unique by the fact that there is no minimum order for custom awareness ribbons. You may order just one, or a whole bunch with all different personalization. Personalized Cause® is a firm believer in the power of awareness. We have seen first hand how one awareness ribbon can impact an entire community of people.

    A symbol as small as an awareness ribbon can be a silent and powerful show of support, a badge of honor, or a tool to educate others and raise awareness. Click the link below to check out our products. The Personalized Cause® awareness blog is dedicated to raising awareness for as many causes as possible. All in all, awareness is the key to understanding, acceptance, and compassion.

    Red awareness ribbons are used to“>raise awareness for Sickle Cell Disease. To order a custom red awareness ribbon, visit us at Personalized Cause.

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