Do You Know These 3 Key Facts About Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited condition that changes the shape of red blood cells, which can prevent oxygen from spreading effectively throughout your body. SCD can lead to serious symptoms like anemia, chronic pain, tissue damage and jaundice – but with proper care and treatment, people living with sickle cell disease can manage the condition and live long, healthy lives.
Fact 1: Sickle cell disease affects the lives of about 100,000 Americans, and most Americans who are affected by SCD are of African descent.
While SCD can affect people of any ethnic background, it is more common in certain ethnic groups. According to the CDC, Americans living with SCD are most commonly of African descent, with SCD occurring “in about 1 out of every 365 African American births.” SCD is also more common in people with ancestors from these regions:
- Central and South America (Hispanic-American)
- The Middle East
- The Mediterranean
Fact 2: People with sickle cell disease are considered to be at high-risk for COVID-19 complications.
According to the CDC, “Having sickle cell disease (SCD) increases your risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” It is especially important for those at high risk to minimize their exposure to COVID-19. Tips to minimize exposure include:
- Avoiding going out in public.
- Wearing a mask, waiting 6 feet apart and washing your hands often.
- Asking your health care provider if telehealth visits are an option for you.
- Preventing pain crises by avoiding known triggers.
- Working with your provider to manage your SCD and other conditions.
Fact 3: Sickle cell disease is manageable and treatable, and those living with SCD can live a long and healthy life.
Having regular visits and check-ins with a health care provider is important for those living SCD. Health care providers can help you manage and treat SCD so that you can avoid complications that could impact your health and quality of life.
In addition to working with a health care provider, these habits can also help you stay healthy:
- Practicing hand hygiene and other infection prevention strategies helps prevent other illnesses like colds and the flu, which may lead to serious complications for those with SCD.
- Practicing other healthy habits such as eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly can help promote overall health.
Compassionate care providers with expertise in both primary care and sickle cell disease are here to support you at the Cone Health Patient Care Center. Click here or call 336-832-1970 to learn more.
About the Author
Olu Jegede, MD, MHA, FACP, CPE, FAAPL, Cone Health Medical Group Area Medical Director, is a physician at the Cone Health Patient Care Center and is an appointed member of the North Carolina Council of Sickle Cell Syndrome.