September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, a time dedicated to creating awareness around sickle cell disease (SCD).
If you or your child has sickle cell disease (SCD), you should learn as much as you can about the disease. Your health care providers are there to help you, and you should feel comfortable asking questions.
The National Heart,Blood and Lung Institute (NHBLI) explains that sickle cell disease is a genetic disease that strikes approximately 100,000 Americans. SCD describes a collection of inherited red blood cell disorders, which results in abnormal hemoglobin (or hemoglobin S/sickle hemoglobin), in the patient’s red blood cells. The lack of essential tissue oxygen can result in sudden and extreme pain (or crises). Children with SCD often go pain free until they experience crises, but adult patients can experience chronic pain.
As with any disease that affects you or a loved one, the NHBLI recommends learning as much as possible about SCD—including how to prevent infection, how to manage pain, where to find emotional support, and lifestyle recommendations (i.e., exercise, stress reduction, diet, and sleep) for those living with the disease and those caring for patients with sickle cell disease.