10 Myths about Sickle Cell Disease & Things You Should Know

Sickle Cell

There have been a lot of myths and false information that have been going round about Sickle Cell Disease, and today, as we just celebrated world Sickle Cell Day, we hope to share & correct some of them.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SICKLE CELL DISEASE

  1. SCD is not contagious. It’s is inherited from parents.
  2. SCD affects millions of people world wide. However, it is more common with Africans, Indians and Arabians.
  3. A person with SCD can live a long, healthy life by proper medical care as prescribed by a doctor, drink enough water, get regular check-up and maintain healthy life style habits.
  4. If your Genotype is SS or AS, you should marry someone who’s AA.
  5. You must know your partner’s genotype and re-confirm it in a trusted Lab. Know your genotype today and that of your partner.
  6. Some SCD patients have lived up to 70 years with proper care.
Sickle Cell
Normal Red Cells & Sickle Cells

MYTH 1: Is Sickle cell disease (SCD) a spiritual attack and are they Abiku/Ogbanje?

No. SCD is not a spiritual attack. It is neither from Ogbanje or from any other spiritual charms.

MYTH 2: Is it true that individuals with Sickle cell disease don’t live past the age of 21 years?

No. this is not true. With proper medical care, people with Sickle Cell can live for up to 70 years or more. In fact the current oldest person with SCD is over 90 Years old, a woman and a Nigerian. Read about her here.

MYTH 3: Is it true that Sickle cell disease only affects black people?

No. SCD is equally a disease of both the blacks, the whites and every other human on earth.

MYTH 4: Is it only one of four children of parents who are carriers (AS) that will have Sickle cell disease?

This is not exactly so. the statement 1 in 4 or 25% is only a probability. What this means is that, the chances of having a child with Sickle cell is 25% or 1 in 4. However, all Children of the parents can either be Sicklers (SS), Normal (AA) or carriers (AS). So, there is no guarantee here.

MYTH 5: Is SS the only Sickle cell disease type?

No. there are other types of SCD like SS, SC, SD, etc.

MYTH 6: Are all people living with Sickle cell disease drug addicts?

No. They are not. They usually are given some pain relievers during their pain crisis.

MYTH 7: Can other people catch or contract Sickle cell disease like other infections?

No. It is not infectious, transmitted through sex, blood transfusion or any other means. It can only be Inherited.

MYTH 8: Are people with Sickle cell disease immune to malaria?

No. People with sickle cell anaemia (SS) are affected by malaria as much as others. In fact, malaria can trigger crisis in this individuals. However, it is postulated that SCD helps prevent malaria attacks in Carrier individuals (AS).

MYTH 9: Does Sickle cell disease have a cure?

Sickle cell Disease does not currently have a cure.

MYTH 10: Can somebody outgrow sickle cell disease at any age?

No. SCD is usually a life long condition.

For Women/Ladies with Sickle cell disease, it is important to practice Preconception care. Note the following;

  • Your pregnancy must be planned. Go for counseling on pregnancy & ways to parenthood.
  • Speak to your partner! a lot of people still don’t know their genotypes.
  • Speak to your specialists when you decide to have a family (hematologist, cardiologist, nephrologist, geneticist etc)
  • Optimize yourself: Know your baseline (blood level, state of your organs). This is to help assess your health status & ability to go through with pregnancy.
  • Your care must be in tertiary health center: Teaching Hospitals or Federal Medical Centres.
  • Speak to your family! You need all the love & support you can get.

Feel free to ask any confusing questions below, and i would try to answer them as soon as i can.

Authors

  • Dr Abosede Lewu is a specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. She is an Expert on Women's Health, (Fibroids, Infertility, Menstruation & Pregnancy issues). Dr. Abosede Lewu holds an MBBS Degree from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State Nigeria. You can follow Dr. Lewu on twitter: @NaijaObgyn for all Obstetrics and Gynaecology related complaints.

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