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What happens when you have sickle cell disease?

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If you have this disease, these abnormally shaped red blood cells can cause a number of health problems. For example:

These events trigger the symptoms of sickle cell disease.

  • The cells build up and block blood flow to organs and tissues.
  • The cells die sooner. Sickle cells live about 10 to 20 days. Healthy red blood cells live from 90 to 120 days. Red blood cells may burst open (hemolyze). Even though your body constantly makes new red blood cells to replace the old ones, sickle cell disease may prevent your body from keeping up with the demand.

SOURCES:

National Human Genome Research Institute: “Learning About Sickle Cell Disease.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Sickle Cell Anemia,” “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease?”

Mayo Clinic: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

American Society of Hematology: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

CDC: “Complications and Treatments.”

UpToDate: "Bone and Joint Complications in Sickle Cell Disease."

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on June 23, 2019

SOURCES:

National Human Genome Research Institute: “Learning About Sickle Cell Disease.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Sickle Cell Anemia,” “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease?”

Mayo Clinic: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

American Society of Hematology: “Sickle Cell Anemia.”

CDC: “Complications and Treatments.”

UpToDate: "Bone and Joint Complications in Sickle Cell Disease."

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on June 23, 2019

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