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patient education

My friend has sickle cell disease. How can I help?

key information

source: TeensHealth

year: 2018


What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease. It’s a strange sounding name — but the word “sickle” doesn’t come from “sick.” The disease got this name because it causes blood cells to be curved or C-shaped, like the shape of an old-fashioned farm tool called a sickle. Normally, blood cells are round and look a bit like donuts. In people with sickle cell disease, some of the red blood cells harden and curve. They also break down faster than healthy red blood cells and can clog a person’s small blood vessels. This causes severe pain, called a “pain crisis.”

A pain crisis can last for a few moments, a few days, or even longer. Medications can help lessen the pain. People with sickle cell disease can develop anemia. They also may have some jaundice. Sickle cell disease is inherited. People are born with it. It‘s not contagious, so you can’t catch it from someone. Sickle cell disease is a lifelong health condition. Right now, there’s no cure, but there are things doctors can do to help.

What’s My Friend Going Through?
Because of sickle cell disease, your friend may be tired more often than you are or have trouble fighting infections. Most teens with sickle cell disease have to pay extra attention to diet, take vitamins (especially folic acid), exercise, get enough rest, and stay hydrated by drinking enough water. They need to watch how their bodies respond to infections like a cold. Some people take antibiotics to help fight off bacteria.


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