If you live with, care for or have experienced the acute episodes of pain sickle cell patients often go through, you would agree that it’s one peculiar and agonising season of their lives.
Sickle Cell is one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases, which leaves the affected persons distressed and helpless. It is an inherited disease, as a result of flaw in the gene. The disease impedes the ability of the haemoglobin in the red blood cells to carry oxygen. This leads to painful complications.
People with sickle cells have pains in their bones or joints. These painful episodes often known as sickle cell crises can be in their chest or whole body. Swelling of hands and feet, frequent infections, delayed growth or puberty, and vision problems.
They are also at risk of stroke, acute chest syndrome, bone damage and priapism (a persistent, painful erection of the penis. If not treated promptly, can lead to impotence). Sickle cell anaemia can also impact negatively on the mental health of patients and may lead to depression. It affects their daily lives.
According to research, These crises occur when blood vessels to part of the body become blocked. The pain can be severe and lasts for up to 7 days on the average.
Some people may have one every few weeks, while others may have less than 1 episode in a year. The average is 1 bad episode a year. It’s not often clear what triggers the pain, however, some painful episodes can be caused by the weather (wind, rain or cold), stress, dehydration, or strenuous exercises.
People with the genotype AS, are carriers of the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) however, they do not suffer any Sickle Cell Disease symptoms. Nonetheless, they can pass it on to their children.
Now, children with SCD are at increased risk for stroke, the risk is highest between the ages of 2 and 16
People living with SCD are also susceptible to infections, and are usually anaemic.
FACTS ABOUT SICKLE CELL DISEASE
- Approximately 5% of the world’s population are healthy carriers of a gene for sickle-cell disease or thalassaemia.
- The greatest burden of the disease lies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
- The prevalence of sickle cell trait ranges between 10 and 45% in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria, carrier prevalence is about 20 to 30%.
- SCD affects about 2 to 3% of the Nigerian population of more than 160 million. Recent estimates from a large retrospective study by Nwogoh et al. in Benin City, South-South Nigeria revealed an SCD prevalence of 2.39% and a carrier rate of about 23%.
- Sickle cell-related death among Black or African-American children younger than 4 years of age fell by 42% from 1999 through 2002.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 70% of deaths could be prevented through management and treatment programmes.
HOW IS SCD TREATED?
Early diagnosis is crucial to the treatment of SCD. Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms, complications, prevent infections, and future damage to organs. Treatments are given based on the severity of the disease in a patient.
- Medications: medications can help improve the symptoms of SCD. According to research, taking hydroxyurea reduces the frequency of painful crises.
- Blood transfusion: this may help boost blood in the system and prevent anaemia.
- Bone marrow transplants: this is usually rare depending on the severity.
- Antibiotics: infections are usually treated with antibiotics.
- Herbs: Herbal medicine is increasingly being validated by scientific investigation which seeks to understand the active chemistry of the plant. Rida Sickle cell Solution Pack has been proven to significantly reduce painful episodes. The Sickle Cell Solution Pack is a 90 day pack, that allows you enjoy the wonders of natural products that work at cell levels to mop up oxidative stress.
Remember this condition can’t be cured, however it can be effectively managed with proper attention to symptoms. You can still live healthy regardless. Check in with your doctor often.