The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that affects the red blood cells. The red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease are shaped like a crescent moon or sickle. These sickle-shaped cells can block blood vessels, leading to pain, infections, and other health problems.
Early diagnosis and treatment of sickle cell disease are essential for improving the quality of life for people with the disease. Early diagnosis can help prevent complications like stroke and organ damage. Treatment can help to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life.
The theme for World Sickle Cell Day 2023 is “Building and Strengthening Global Sickle Cell Communities, Formalizing New-born Screening and Knowing your Sickle Cell Disease Status”. This theme is a call to action to build stronger communities for people with sickle cell disease, formalise newborn screening programs, and encourage people to know their sickle cell disease status.
Why is early diagnosis and treatment important?
There are several reasons why early diagnosis and treatment of sickle cell disease is essential. First, early diagnosis can help to prevent complications. If a child with sickle cell disease is diagnosed early, they can be started on penicillin to prevent infections (e.g. pneumonia) which can be life-threatening.
Second, early diagnosis can help to improve the quality of life for people with sickle cell disease. When diagnosed early, a child with sickle cell disease can be taught how to manage his/her condition – knowing the signs and symptoms of a sickle cell crisis, taking medication, and avoiding activities that can trigger a crisis.
Third, early diagnosis can help reduce healthcare costs as early onset preventive treatment can prevent consequential infections that may be very costly.
How can we improve early diagnosis?
Some things can be done to improve early diagnosis of sickle cell disease. One crucial step is to formalise newborn screening programs. Newborn screening is done on all newborns to check for genetic disorders, including sickle cell disease. Formalising newborn screening programs will ensure that all newborns are identified early.
Another critical step is encouraging people to know their sickle cell disease status. People who know their sickle cell disease status can take steps to manage their condition and prevent complications. You can find your sickle cell disease status via blood tests, genetic testing, etc.
How can we get involved?
World Sickle Cell Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of sickle cell disease and to advocate for better healthcare for people with the disease. By working together, we can build stronger communities for people with sickle cell disease and improve the quality of life for everyone affected by this condition.
Here are some things you can do to get involved in World Sickle Cell Day:
- Donate blood. Blood transfusions are essential for people with sickle cell disease. You can donate blood at your local blood bank.
- Volunteer your time to a sickle cell organisation. Many organisations work to improve the lives of people with sickle cell disease. You can volunteer your time to help with fundraising, education, or patient support.
- Educate others about sickle cell disease. Talk to your friends, family, and community about sickle cell disease. Share information about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sickle cell disease.
Duchess Hospital offers sickle cell diagnosis and treatment services.
Our team of experienced doctors and nurses is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for people with sickle cell disease.
If you or someone you know has sickle cell disease, we encourage you to contact Duchess Hospital today to learn more about our services.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.