Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can anyone get sickle cell disease?"
I have had very weird symptoms lately but I thought it was with you from birth if you had it.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disease of the hemoglobin, an important protein found in red blood cells. Sickle cell disease generally causes anemia, a state of too few red blood cells that can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. The gene for sickle cell disease originated in Africa and thus, it is a disease that is almost exclusively in people of African decent. It is estimated that about 1 in 8 African American's carry one copy of the gene. You need two copies to get sickle cell disease. The defective hemoglobin protein causes the red blood cell to change shape and be destroyed in the blood. This is why sickle cell disease causes anemia. The symptoms of sickle cell disease include the symptoms of anemia (above), and often pain. If you are an adult and have not had any problems your whole life, it is very unlikely that you have sickle cell disease. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss any symptoms you are having and you can get a complete physical done. If your doctor thinks there is a chance that you may be anemic, then you may need a complete blood count. If you are anemic, then you will need to have a workup to find out why. Good luck.
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