Are you sickle cell aware?

Published: 5 September 2022

It's Sickle Cell Awareness Month, putting a spotlight on the condition to increase awareness. But what is sickle cell disease?

People with sickle cell disease produce unusually shaped red blood cells. A sickle cell crisis happens when blood vessels to a part of the body become blocked. This happens because the crescent shaped cells stick together more easily, and when this happens, blood flow can become restricted.

Anyone can be born with sickle cell disorder, but it is most common amongst people from a black Caribbean or black African background.

Signs of a sickle cell crisis or complication can include:

  • Pain
  • Signs of infection including fever
  • One-sided paralysis or weakness in the face, arms or legs
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking or talking
  • Sudden visual changes
  • Unexplained numbness
  • Severe headache
  • Breathlessness, chest pain or low oxygen levels

If someone has these symptoms, they should seek urgent medical attention – this may be via A&E, 999 or their local haematology unit.

Kilali Ominu-Evbota is Co-lead of the Mid and South Essex Paediatric Sickle Cell Service. Kilali explains what sickle cell disorder is and why it’s so important people know the signs of a sickle cell crisis. Read the full blog on the NHS England website.

For more information about sickle cell disease, visit the NHS website.