World Sickle Cell Day: Causes, Symptoms And Survival Rate Of This Common Genetic Disease

World Sickle Cell Day: Sickle cell disease is a common genetic disease which is passed through families. A person is born with sickle cell disease. Know all about it here.



  1. Sickle cell disease is referred to a group of inherited blood disorders
  2. It is not something that you catch or develop in later life
  3. It makes the red blood cells look like a sickle

Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disease that you are born with. You inherit it from your parents, who are carriers of the disease. World Sickle Cell Day is observed on June 19. The day is meant to raise awareness about sickle cell disease, which is one of the most common genetic diseases in the world. Sickle cell disease can be referred to a group of inherited blood disorders. It is passed down through families and is not something that you catch or develop in later life. A person is born with sickle cell disease. The disease is known as the sickle cell disease as it makes the red blood cells look like a sickle - which is a c-shaped farm tool.

If you have sickle cell disease, your haemoglobin will have an abnormal shape. Haemoglobin, which is usually flexible, round and smooth (in a healthy person), will be in the form of rods that clump together. This, in turn, results the red blood cells becoming rigid and curved. Odd-shaped red blood cells tend to block blood flow, thus causing anaemia, pain and other symptoms.

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World Sickle Cell Day: Causes of sickle cell disease

The disease is caused by problem in haemoglobin-beta gene that is found on chromosome 11. This is the defect which results in abnormal shape of haemoglobin. It is when your parents pass the abnormal haemoglobin gene to you that you are born with sickle cell disease. In case both your parents are carriers of the disease, you have 1 in 4 chances of being born with the disease, according to WebMD.

A child can become carrier of the disease if s/he is born with one defective haemoglobin-beta gene. While carriers don't get symptoms of the disease, they pass it on the future generations in case their partner also carries the sickle cell trait.

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Sickle cell disease symptoms

Common symptoms of sickle cell disease includes pain, fatigue, anaemia, arthritis, swelling or inflammation in joints or feet, bacterial infections, leg ulcers and eye damage to name a few.

Symptoms of the disease usually begin to show during the first year of life. Abdominal pain, fever, infections, swelling in hands and feet are common in infants and young children. Leg ulcers and eye damage are likely to be seen in adolescents and young adults. As adults, sickle cell disease patient will experience intermittent pain and injury of bone, muscles and other internal organs.


Sickle Cell Disease may cause arthritis
Photo Credit: iStock

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Sickle cell disease survival

Infants may not develop symptoms during the first few months as haemoglobin produced by developing foetus offers protection to red blood cells from sickling. Foetal haemoglobin goes within 5 months of birth, that's when red blood cells start becoming sickle and symptoms become prominent again.

Some patients with sickle cell anaemia may live without symptoms for years. Others may not be able to survive even infancy or early childhood. The condition may impair your growth and development, which may make the patient go through physical and emotional trauma.

Death because of sickle cell disease can occur because of stroke, bleeding in brain, heart, kidney or liver failure. However, the risk of bacterial infection is likely to be lesser after 3 years of age. Still, bacterial infections are the most common cause of death at any age. In case you experience any signs of sickle cell disease, make sure you get it checked by doctor for early prevention and treatment.

This World Sickle Cell Day, let's make an attempt to make people aware about sickle cell disease and tips for proper management of it.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information

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