sickle cell disease

Cellular Symphony

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a genetic blood disorder that affects the hemoglobin, or the protein that carries oxygen through the body. Among the various treatment options, Oxbryta has emerged as a significant advancement in managing this condition. Oxbryta works by increasing hemoglobin levels and reducing the destruction of red blood cells, improving anemia and overall oxygen delivery in the body. This article will explore the details of sickle cell disease, the signs you should be aware of, treatment options and more.

Foods that Improve Blood Circulation

  • Beets.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Garlic.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Cayenne pepper.
  • Pomegranate.
  • Fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel).
  • Ginger.
  • Turmeric.
  • Berries.
  • Nuts (especially walnuts and almonds).
  • Spinach.
  • Watermelon.
  • Green tea.
  • Tomatoes.
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What is Sickle Cell Disease?

SCD is the most common form of an inherited blood disorder, affecting approximately 100,000 people in the United States every single year.

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Instead of the usual round shape, the red blood cells of individuals with SCD are crescent or sickle-shaped. This means that the blood cells can’t bend or move as easily as they normally do, which leads to a blockage in blood flow. While this might seem like a rather innocuous symptom, it can have a significant impact on the body. Some of the symptoms include:


Because sickled cells are easily destroyed, there are fewer red blood cells available in the body. This results in anemia which can make you feel dizzy, short of breath and tired.

Pain Crisis

A pain crisis occurs when the flow of blood is blocked to an area because the sickled cells have become stuck in the blood vessel. The pain can occur anywhere, but most often occurs in the chest, arms and legs. It can also lead to painful swelling of the fingers or toes.

Acute Chest Syndrome

This is a life-threatening symptom that occurs when sickled cells stick together and block the flow of oxygen in the lungs. It can also include fever, pain and a violent cough.


Sickle disease-related strokes often happen suddenly and severely. It occurs when the misshapen cells block the blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygen. This can also lead to brain damage.


Sickle cells do not live as long as normal red blood cells and therefore they die faster than the liver can filter out. This can lead to a yellowing of the skin from the build-up of broken-down cells in the system.

Delayed Growth

Children with SCD may experience delayed growth and puberty due to the body's reduced ability to carry oxygen and nutrients.

Signs of Sickle Cell Disease

  • Fatigue.
  • Pain, often in the bones, chest, abdomen or joints.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
  • Swelling of hands and feet.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Delayed growth or puberty.
  • Vision problems.
  • Stroke.
  • Priapism (painful, prolonged erection) in males.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for SCD vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common treatment options include:


Medications such as Oxbryta work by increasing hemoglobin levels and reducing the destruction of red blood cells, working to improve anemia and overall oxygen delivery in the body. Hydroxyurea is another medication that is used in treatment that help reduce the frequency of pain crises and the need for blood transfusions. Other medications that can be used for treatment include over-the-counter pain medications.

Blood Transfusions

Regular blood transfusions can increase the number of normal red blood cells, reducing the risk of stroke and other complications.

Bone Marrow Transplant

Also known as a stem cell transplant, this is currently the only potential cure for SCD. It involves replacing the patient's bone marrow with healthy marrow from a compatible donor.

Gene Therapy

Emerging treatments like gene therapy aim to correct the genetic defect causing SCD.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

A balanced diet plays a crucial role in managing SCD. Some dietary recommendations to help manage the condition:


Staying well-hydrated helps prevent sickle cell crises. Drinking plenty of water keeps the blood vessels dilated and reduces the risk of blockages.

Folate-rich Foods

Folate is essential for the production of red blood cells. This includes food such as dark leafy greens, beans and citrus fruits in your diet.

Lean Proteins

Consuming lean proteins, such as chicken, fish and legumes, helps in muscle maintenance and overall health.

Antioxidant-rich Foods

Foods high in antioxidants, like berries, tomatoes and nuts, can help reduce inflammation and protect the body from damage caused by sickle cells.

Iron-rich Foods

While individuals with SCD need to monitor their iron levels, including moderate amounts of iron-rich foods like lean meats and fortified cereals can be beneficial, especially under medical supervision.

Understanding SCD

SCD is a challenging condition, but with proper management, individuals can lead healthier lives. Recognizing the signs, adhering to a supportive diet and utilizing treatments like Oxbryta can significantly improve outcomes for those affected by this genetic disorder.