Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia — a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body.
The term sickle cell disease (SCD) describes a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. People with Sickle Cell Disease have abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin, in their red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Normally, your red blood cells are flexible and round, moving easily through your blood vessels. In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.
There's no cure for most people with sickle cell anemia. But treatments can relieve pain and help prevent problems associated with the disease.
Symptoms of sickle cell anemia, which vary from person to person and change over time, include: anemia, episodes of pain, painful swelling of hands and feet, vision irregularities, and frequent infections.
If you or a family member suspect symptoms or have a history of Sickle Cell Disease, talk to your doctor.