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Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia (uh-NEE-me-uh) is the most common form of sickle cell disease (SCD). SCD is a serious disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. “Sickle-shaped” means that the red blood cells are shaped like a crescent.

Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the center. They move easily through your blood vessels. Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin causes the cells to develop a sickle, or crescent, shape.

Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and organ damage. It can also raise the risk for infection.

 

Overview

Sickle cell anemia is one type of anemia. Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. This condition also can occur if your red blood cells don't contain enough hemoglobin.

Red blood cells are made in the spongy marrow inside the larger bones of the body. Bone marrow is always making new red blood cells to replace old ones. Normal red blood cells live about 120 days in the bloodstream and t (More)


Understanding Sickle Cell Anemia

  • Chronic Conditions of Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Genetics and Sickle Cell Anemia: It's Not a “Black Disease”
  • Sickle Cell Classroom and Workplace Guides
  • Treatments for Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Variants of Sickle Cell Disease
  • For Kids - Do You Know About Sickle Cell Anemia?
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Sickle Cell Anemia: Genetic Disease Profile (Human Genome Project)
  • What is Sickle Cell Anemia? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute - NIH)
  • What Is Sickle Cell Anemia? (Video and Information)

  • Commonly Asked Questions


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  • Additional Information

  • Symptoms and Tests
  • Treatment
  • Complications
  • The Body
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    NetWellness Expert Eric H Kraut

    Eric H Kraut, MD
    The Ohio State University

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    Last Updated: Jun 25, 2014