Sickle cell is an inherited condition that is passed down from your parents the same way people get the color of their eyes, skin and hair. There is no way to catch sickle cell – it is not contagious.
The process of hemoglobin clumping together to form a long chain inside the red blood cells is called polymerization. This chain of hemoglobin is what causes the red blood cells to change into a sickled shape. When red blood cells sickle, they can’t do their job of carrying oxygen throughout the body as well. When this process begins, it creates room for the following components to take place in the body:
It is unknown how much each of these components of sickle cell may impact your overall health.
Sickle cell disease changes over time, impacting your overall health. The long-term impact of sickle cell can occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, even when pain is not felt.
It’s important to note that whether you experience day-to-day symptoms or not, the overall impact of the disease is progressive and damage can still be occurring in your body. This is why it’s important to learn about your disease early and work with your healthcare team to develop healthy, preventative habits at a young age.
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