We’ve all heard about Sickle Cell Anemia disproportionately affecting the African American population. Let’s take a closer look to better our understanding of it and find out how it can affect our lifestyle. The first thing to understand about this blood disorder is what it does and why is it common among our community.
What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
In this blood disorder, the red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen all across the body are not healthy enough to travel through blood vessels. In order to go through blood vessels, the red blood cells have to be flexible and smooth but those with Sickle Cell Anemia or ‘Sicklers’ have rigid red blood cells. As a result of this, smaller blood vessels get blocked by these unhealthy blood cells. This leads to bodily pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, Anemia (that is decrease in healthy red blood cells), bacterial infection, swelling of limbs and stroke. As a person with Sickle Cell Anemia grows older, the pain becomes chronic i.e. constant.
Why Do Black Folks Have a Higher Chance of Getting It?
Sickle Cell Anemia is common to people of African descent as well as India and the Arabian Peninsula. It developed among African folks as a natural defense mechanism against malaria, a disease that is common to the African continent. This defense is created in the body by having one sickle cell gene and one normal hemoglobin gene. Carrying one sickle cell gene doesn’t mean the person suffers from the blood disorder. Instead, it means that they are carriers and may transfer it to their kids. However, having only the Sickle Cell gene sans the healthy hemoglobin gene means that one suffers from the disorder
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