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Sickle Cell Anemia

Also called: Hemoglobin SS disease

Summary

Sickle cell anemia is a disease in which your body produces abnormally shaped red blood cells. The cells are shaped like a crescent or sickle. They don't last as long as normal, round red blood cells. This leads to anemia. The sickle cells also get stuck in blood vessels, blocking blood flow. This can cause pain and organ damage.

A genetic problem causes sickle cell anemia. People with the disease are born with two sickle cell genes, one from each parent. If you only have one sickle cell gene, it's called sickle cell trait. About 1 in 12 African Americans has sickle cell trait.

The most common symptoms are pain and problems from anemia. Anemia can make you feel tired or weak. In addition, you might have shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, or coldness in the hands and feet.

A blood test can show if you have the trait or anemia. Most states test newborn babies as part of their newborn screening programs.

Sickle cell anemia has no widely available cure. Treatments can help relieve symptoms and lessen complications. Researchers are investigating new treatments such as blood and marrow stem cell transplants, gene therapy, and new medicines.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Start Here

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  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Symptoms

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Blood Smear From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • Complete Blood Count From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)

Treatments and Therapies

Living With

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
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Related Issues

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (Merck & Co., Inc.)
  • (Pulmonary Hypertension Association) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Human Genome Research Institute)
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Health Check Tools

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Videos and Tutorials

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Statistics and Research

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Clinical Trials

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Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

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Teenagers

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Women

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in

Patient Handouts

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