Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What is sickle-cell anemia?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is sickle-cell anemia?


I just turned 20, and sickle-cell anemia runs in my family, so I'm worried that I will get it. What can I do to make sure that I (and my kids, someday) don't develop this disease?


Sickle cell anemia is a common disorder. It is a genetic disease that has significant complications and requires significant medical treatment. If you feel your children may be at risk, then I would suggest you speak to your doctor at once. Sickle cell anemia is a blood disorder. In this disorder, the blood cells of the patient are different then normal and are oddly shaped--as opposed to being normal circles like regular blood cells, the sickle cells are shaped like sickles. These cells are very fragile so break easily, but also are more difficult to get through the blood vessels so clog in the blood vessels. It is a significant disease in which the patient has serious pain and difficulty carrying oxygen in the blood. It is a genetic disorder. This is most common among African Americans. You need two defective genes to get the disorder -- one from your mother and one from your father. If you get only one defective gene but one normal gene then you will not have any major symptoms. In order to see if you are at risk, talk to your doctor. Simple blood tests can tell if you have two defective genes, one defective gene (therefore your kids could be at risk) or zero defective genes (then your kids would not be at risk). Talk to your doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.