SICKLE CELL DISEASE
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited blood
disorder that affects red blood cells
People with SCD have blood cells that contain
mostly hemoglobin*S, an abnormal type of
There are several types of SCD: the most common
are Sickle Cell Anemia (SS) and Sickle Hemoglobin
C disease (SC)
What’s the problem with Sickle Cells?
Sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels,
allowing less blood to reach different parts of the
Abnormal blood flow damages tissue causing the
complications of SCD
What happens in the body?
Organ or tissue involved Problem
Kidney bed-wetting, blood in the urine, kidney failure
Hands & Feet Swelling and pain
Spleen increased risk for serious infections
Splenic sequestration (large amount of body's blood pooled in the spleen)
Lungs Pneumonia, Acute chest syndrome
Skin Slow - healing sores on legs and ankles
Bones Infection, Bone damage
Brain Stroke, Headache
Penis Painful unexpected erection
Eyes Vision problems
Liver Increased size, Gallstones, Gives yellow color to eyes and skin
What is a sickle cell crisis?
A sickle cell crisis happens when sickled red blood cells
block small blood vessels that carry blood to the bones.
This causes pain that can begin suddenly and last several
hours to several days. The person might have pain in their
back, knees, legs, arms, chest or stomach.
The pain can be throbbing, sharp, dull or stabbing.
How often and how bad the pain gets varies a lot from
person to person and from crisis to crisis.
What is the treatment or cure for SCD?
The only cure for Sickle Cell Disease is bone marrow
transplants, but it is risky and has lots of
Some promising treatments: hydroxyurea, blood
transfusions, pain relievers, etc.
Young children under 5 years take penicillin twice
daily to prevent pneumonia.
Who is affected by Sickle Cell Disease?
SCD affects approximately 72,000 people in the US
Predominantly African-American (1 in 500 births)
Hispanic Americans (1 in 1000-1400 births)
SCD is also present in Portuguese, Spanish, French Corsicans,
Sardinians, Sicilians, mainland Italians, Greeks, Turks, and
Cypriots. Sickle Cell Disease also appears in African countries,
Middle Eastern countries and Asia.
What should a teacher do?
Be informed about Sickle Cell Disease
Anticipate more missed school days
Allow extra water and bathroom breaks
Pay attention to temperature control
Be aware of the need to rest
Don’t assume lesser intelligence
Student may need special services
Know the symptoms of strokes
What are the symptoms of strokes?
Sickle cell disease is one of the few conditions that can cause stroke
(brain injury) in children. Notify the child's family at once if any of the
following symptoms appear without another explanation:
Difficulty with memory
Difficulty using a hand, a leg, or one side of the face due to muscle
Numbness or tingling
Difficulty with balance
Difficulty with vision or hearing
Difficulty speaking or understanding what other people are saying
For more information:
Duke Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center
Sickle Cell Disease: A Resource for the Educator
NC Sickle Syndrome Program http://www.ncsicklecellprogram.org/
Dr. Spock - Understanding Sickle Cell Disease: Instructions for Teachers
Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc