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June 19th was officially designated as World Sickle Cell Awareness Day. The international awareness day is observed annually with the goal to increase public knowledge and understanding of sickle cell disease and the challenges experienced by patients and their families and caregivers.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited group of disorders that affects the red blood cells in the blood. A special pigment in the red blood cell called haemoglobin is where the primary defect occurs. Under certain conditions e.g malaria, dehydration etc. the red blood cells becomes deformed leading to the formation of the typical “sickle” shape from which the disease derives is name.
These cells loose their normal Physiological qualities and are easily prone to destruction ( haemolysis)
This ultimately leads to acute and chronic complications affecting a good number of organs in the body.
Some signs and symptoms include:
• Bone pain and Joint pain
• Leg ulcers
• Blood in urine
• Swelling of the abdomen.
Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in the world, therefore, increasing its awareness is crucial because it is one disease that can be prevented if the relevant screening (determination of genotype) is done.
Knowing your genotype is critical. Intending couples who hope to have kids should make it a point of duty to check their genotype to prevent having children who would be subjected to pain and suffering that comes with this disease.
Recommendation for those affected with
Sickie cell Disease
• Adequate water intake (3 to 4 liters daily) for individuals who are already sufferers of the disease
• Avoid precipitants of sickle cell crisis
i.e (extremes of weather or strenuous activities)
• Regular visit to the clinic to see a Haematoiogist is advised.
• Ensuring he/she takes the prescribed medications (as directed by a physician) religiously.
Together we can beat this scourge by increasing its awareness and encouraging people to know their genotype.