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Sickle Cell Disease

March 30, 2020

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a collection of inherited red blood cell disorders. SCD is a disease of the blood and it affects the red blood cells primarily. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In people who suffer from sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a sickle. Hence the term, “sickle” cell disease. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such as infections, acute chest syndrome, and stroke.

The most common form of SCD is sickle cell anemia (SCA). It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Typically, problems with sickle cell anemia begin to occur around 5 to 6 months of age. A number of health problems may develop, such as attacks of pain (“sickle cell crisis”), anemia, swelling in the hands and feet, bacterial infections and stroke.

Sickle cell disease occurs when a person inherits two abnormal copies of the β-globin gene that makes hemoglobin, one from each parent. This gene occurs in chromosome 11. Several subtypes exist, depending on the exact mutation in each hemoglobin gene. An attack can be set off by temperature changes, stress, dehydration, and high altitude. A person with a single abnormal copy does not usually have symptoms and is said to have sickle cell trait. Such people are also referred to as carriers. Diagnosis is by a blood test, and some countries test all babies at birth for the disease. Diagnosis is also possible during pregnancy.

Treatment for individuals that do have SCD may include infection prevention with vaccination and antibiotics. Also, high fluid intake, a regiment of folic acid supplementation, and pain medication are useful and have shown to be beneficial. Other measures may include blood transfusion and the medication hydroxycarbamide (hydroxyurea). A small percentage of people can be cured by a transplant of bone marrow cells.

The frequency of SCD varies from country to country. SCD affects 0.6 percent of the African American population in the United States (approximately 100,000 cases in the United States). It is also common in people of Hispanic descent, from India, Central America and the Arabian Peninsula, but can occur in people of any background. SCD affects approximately one in every 300 – 500 African American newborns. The sickle cell trait is present in approximately 40 percent of the general population in some areas of Africa. The incidence of sickle cell trait in Americans of African descent is 9 percent.

A medical study conducted by the journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2018 shows that medical cannabis use is relatively common among patients with sickle cell disease. Statisticians at Yale University in 2018 conducted an anonymous survey among nearly 60 patients with the disease. They found that 42% of respondents reported having used cannabis within the past two years, and 31% reported having used it within the past month. Respondents of the survey said they did so for therapeutic purposes. Also, this survey found that cannabis “allowed for less use of pain medications”, a finding that is consistent with chronic pain sufferers.

Sickle cell disease is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Ohio and patients that suffer from this diagnosis can come to Summit Releaf for a consultation to obtain their Ohio marijuana card. At Summit Releaf, we make it as easy as possible to obtain your Ohio marijuana card, by offering discounts to those members of our community who receive social security or are US veterans that served honorably. The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Summit Releaf offers this information to provide an understanding of the potential benefits of medical marijuana for patients living with one of the approved Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program qualifying conditions. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Summit Releaf and none should be inferred.

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