Blood Vessel

Vaso-Occulusive Crisis

What is sickle cell disease?


Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder, meaning it

is inherited through families. The disease is characterized by sickle-shaped red blood cells. These red blood cells take on an unusual shape, which makes it difficult for sickle red blood cells to maneuver through blood vessels. There are several types of sickle cell diseases. The most common include: Sickle Cell Anemia, Sickle C Disease, and Sickle Beta Thalassemia.









Sickle Cell Disease Inheritance


Sickle cell disease is inherited from both parents; therefore each parent must carry the "sickle cell gene" in order to pass it on to their children. Individuals that carry the "sickle cell gene" have either sickle cell disease or have sickle cell trait. Depending on their genotypes, there are several ways (and probabilities) to pass on the "sickle cell gene".


Both parents must carry a sickle cell gene in order for a child to inherit sickle cell disease.


Learn more about inheriting the sickle cell gene.








Complications of Sickle Cell Disease


Because sickle cell disease is a blood disorder, complications can occur in any part of the body. Complications range in severity, however the most common complications include: anemia, sickle cell pain episodes (or crises), and infections. More severe complications include: pneumonia, acute chest syndrome, stroke, splenic sequestration, pulmonary hypertension, and organ damage. Click here to learn more.










Sickle Cell Pain Episode (Crisis)

There are various types of sickle cell pain episodes which range in severity: from dull to excruciating. Sickle cell pain episodes can last anywhere from minutes to several months. Pain episodes can occur in any part of the body. Severe pain episodes are usually treated within a hospital setting, with the aid of pain killers such as narcotics. Severe pain episodes can lead to other complications and can be fatal.


Vaso-occlusive crises occur when red blood cells (RBC) become obstructed within blood vessels. This results in pain ranging from moderate to severe.






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Normal red blood cells are round, soft, and flexible,  which allows them to maneuver easily through blood vessels.

Sickle red blood cells are hard, sticky, and stiff, which makes it difficult for them to maneuver through blood vessels.

DISCLAIMER: Information on this site is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


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