Sickle cell disease is a hereditary condition affecting the red blood cells. It is more common in people whose family origins are African, African Caribbean, Asian or Mediterranean but rare in people of North European descent (Ware et al., 2017). Normal blood cells are round and flexible, an adaptation makes them travel through narrow blood vessels. Sickle cell disease changes the form of red blood cells from round to crescent shape. Sickle-shaped red blood cells break easily then clump together to the walls of the vessels. According to Kato et al. (2018), this clumping blocks the vessels preventing sufficient flow of blood and affecting the oxygen supply in the body (Ware et al., 2017). This can cause a range of health issues including chest pain, stroke, and even kidney complications. The sickle-cell disease primarily affects the formation and structures of hemoglobin, reducing the flow of oxygen into the body. The red blood cells die early, leaving a shortage of healthy cells. This condition predisposes the patient to infections, fatigue, and pain.
The Current Issue of the Disease
Sickle cells affect the production of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin chemical carries oxygen and also gives the blood its red color. Sickle cell disorder makes the body produce abnormal hemoglobin called Hobs (Mburu & Odame., 2019). Normal hemoglobin is usually known as HbA while HbS makes red blood cells change shape and appear like a crescent moon. The cells affected by this condition have a short life span, quickly dyeing while the concentration of healthy ones reduces. This constantly causes a deficit of red blood cells in the organism. Sickle cell disease causes low oxygen supply in the body, cold, infections, and even lack of fluid in the body leading to a pain crisis (Morrison et al., 2018). Sickle cells move slowly through capillaries, clogging the blood streamline, and suddenly causing pain that lasts for some time. People with sickle cell disorder, particularly younger children, are at high risk of infections such as flu, meningitis, and hepatitis.
Some symptoms of the condition include enlargement of extremities, along with fever, is associated with sickle cell getting caught in blood vessels making the blood not flow freely through the hands and the feet. The disease also impacts veins in the eye leading to long-term damage of the eye. Restricted hemoglobin flow to the lungs can cause acute chest syndrome, which mimics pneumonia through demonstrations of fever, cough, and challenges to breathing. This condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Sickle cell disease can block the oxygen from flowing to the brain, causing a stroke. Stroke can lead to lifetime disability. Common challenges associated with sickle-cell are vaso-occlusive episodes, acute chest syndrome, stroke, infection, and hip necrosis. The challenges are often not managed effectively due to a lack of proper infrastructure and economic burden.
Effect of the Disease on Public Health Society
Sickle cell disease is passed down through generations, impacting many people. Kato et al. (2018) claim that sickle cell disorder can lead to life-long disability leading to low life expectancy. In addition, the treatment cost of this disorder is very high for people with this condition and also for the health units. The cost to stay in hospital due to sickle cell disease complications is estimated to be high (Ware et al., 2017). Individuals suffering from sickle cell disorder are at risk of high morbidity and mortality from infections, pain, acute chest syndrome, and other complications. Public health society spends a lot of money in the process of preventing and curing people living with sickle cell disease. This has a significant side effect on society which does not have adequate money, and the patient ends up suffering in health facilities. When the health sector worker does not attend to patients due to lack of capital, the mortality rate increases.
The Centre for disease control and prevention, the national center on congenital disabilities and Developmental disabilities, and the division of blood disorders consider sickle cell disease a significant public disorder. These groups play a significant role in creating public awareness of this disorder. They educate the public on genetic health as an initiative to stop the spread of sickle cell disease. The groups also raise awareness of this disorder in the general public to equip health workers who care for sickle cell disease patients. Additional studies have been conducted to search for a better cure for this disorder. In a recent study, bone marrow or stem cell transplant are effective treatments and cures (Kato et al., 2018). The process involves taking healthy donor body cells and transplanting them to an individual with infected bone marrow. Although the process cures the disease, it can also have adverse effects on the patients. There is no known direct treatment for the disease. Each person receives different treatment options depending on the disease symptom.
Possible treatments may include consistent blood transfusions as well as hydration, recommended water intake 8-10 glasses per day. For severe SCD, hydroxyurea medicine is recommended. Preventive research conducted by Morrison et al. (2018) suggests that this medicine can reduce pain and recurrence of the acute chest. Medicine providers in public health programs are not entirely responsible for improved survival for children with sickle cell disorder (Ware et al., 2017). The programs remain important components in preventing sickle cell currently, and hydroxyurea is a widely accepted and used treatment for sickle cell disorder. However, this medicine has several side effects that negatively impact patients, such as blood clotting.
Spiritual and Family Concepts
Religion may play a role in treatment of SCD, influencing patients’ decision making about their health. Some cases may rely on spiritual and alternative medicine rather than traditional scientifically proven methods. This can be dangerous due to the rapid deteriorating effect that the condition has. Since the disease is hereditary, there may be changes in reproductive lifestyles, either voluntarily or encouraged by someone like a religious leader. Family lifestyle will likely dramatically shift for patients with SCD, requiring significant rest, monitoring of health, and expenses for the highly specialized treatments. However, it is possible to live a potentially prolonged
Sickle cell anemia is a serious condition characterized by changes to red blood cells impacting the ability to carry oxygen. Patients with the condition have to shift lifestyles and care to protect physiological and psychological needs. Healthcare providers can provide basic treatments for symptoms, but no cure exists. It will take decades of extensive research and genetic therapeutics to potentially find a solution.
Kato, G. J., Piel, F. B., Reid, C. D., Gaston, M. H., Ohene-Frempong, K., Krishnamurti, L & Vichinsky, E. P. (2018). Sickle cell disease. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 4(1), 1-22. Web.
Mburu, J., & Odame, I. (2019). Sickle cell disease: Reducing the global disease burden. International journal of laboratory hematology, 41, 82-88. Web.
Morrison‐Levy, N., Knight‐Madden, J., Royal‐Thomas, T., King, L., & Asnani, M. (2018). Improving disease knowledge in 6‐to 10‐year‐olds with sickle cell disease: A quasi‐experimental study. Child: care, health, and development, 44(3), 501-506. Web.
Ware, R. E., de Montalembert, M., Tshilolo, L., & Abboud, M. R. (2017). Sickle cell disease. The Lancet, 390(10091), 311-323. Web.