Health Awareness Month

 

 

 

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No Shave November

November 23, 2014 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

I’d like to introduce you to a new friend of mine! His name is Howard Jenkins and according to him he appears a bit “scruffy”. I didn’t know about “No Shave November” until I read Howard’s post on Facebook today. His message was so on point that I asked him if I could feature him on my blog for the rest of the month. This message is for all my male family and friends. Since this appears on the world wide web and Facebook, I’m hoping it touches more than just my male family and friends. Thanks Howard and spread the word!

hjenkinsOkay, I have taken a better selfie in the past, but that isn’t the focus of this message. This time I’m writing what should be an annual message, late. It’s already the 23rd of November 2014 and I’m just now getting around to writing this message. Actually for me that is a good thing. Because that means I have been really busy since the last “No Shave November” message and I have survived another year (unofficially at this point) of being one hundred (100) percent Cancer free. I really enjoy writing that part!

While “No Shave November” is mostly about supporting Prostate Cancer awareness, we should not forget about the other forms of Cancer that is around us. So far this year, unfortunately I have lost at least two people due to Cancer. It also raises the heartburning question of why? With all of the advertising, reminders, and technology available to us on any given day; why are people dying from Cancer at the stage four level? I am talking about people who have the cost of any testing, and any treatment for the disease covered under their health insurance policies. I am talking about people who have a lot of close family, close friends, and other people who simply enjoy their company around them. I’m talking about people who have several good projects to work on. The only answer I can come up with is “Fear”. They are afraid to find out that they possibly have Cancer and for a host of reasons while going through the pain, they will ignore this killer of a disease.

I and others who are far more knowledgeable about the various forms of Cancer will tell any and all who will half way listen to get checked out. If you have health insurance (thanks to Obama Care you should), and even if you sneeze a few days in a row, go to the doctor and get checked out. While attending a funeral a couple of weeks ago, my brother and I told a cousin that the next time his doctor orders up some routine blood work to have a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test included. Since you’re already getting stuck by a needle, a few extra seconds of pain could extend your life by several years. All the phlebotomist (blood technician, vampire) is going to do is draw an extra test tube of blood. A short time later your doctor is going to tell you a number between one and ten.

Okay, here’s the scary part. Ideally you want the number to be zero. Depending on your current health situation, if the number is four or less, your doctor might take a wait and see approach. If the number is around seven, you need to act now. There are a host of options available for you and your doctor to consider. By the way, my biannual PSA test was zero (actually 0.01 a false positive)!

This year I can’t wait for “No Shave November” to end. Not that I want to forget about Prostate Cancer awareness until this time next year. I want it to end so that I can go back and shave off this beard I have grown for the past twenty-three days. So that I can look like the normal me again. Enough of the scruffiness.

Guys: Even if you didn’t grow a beard this year, get checked out by your doctor anyway. It only takes a few minutes and you will be glad you did.

Howard

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

May 25, 2014 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

purpleribbonThe month of May is known as National Arthritis Month (as well as National Stroke Awareness Month). For the purpose of this posting we will focus on Arthritis, more specifically Lupus. Lupus is a less common form of arthritis and is much more fatal. May 10th is known as worldwide Lupus Day and many show their support by wearing purple. If you didn’t know this, and you are reading this blog, then I implore you to spread the word about this disease that as of this posting, still has no cure. 

What is Lupus?

Lupus or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease (in other words, the response of an organism against its own tissue and/or cells. Attacking oneself)  produces antibodies to the cells within the body which causes widespread inflammation and tissue damage (attacking oneself). The human body is such a magnificent being, that man has only began to scratch its surface, therefore it is unknown what causes this for a certainty, but it is believed to be caused by environmental influences, hormonal factors and even genetics. SLE is characterized by bouts of illness and remission (absence of the presence of the disease). A few of the clinical manifestations of SLE (how it expresses itself) are inflamed joints, skin rashes or skin involvement (the butterfly rash). Other organs that can be affected by SLE are the lungs, kidneys and blood vessels. Often times managing people with SLE is a team approach because so many organs can be involved. People may experience pain (due to inflamed joints), fatigue and fevers.

How Prevalent is Lupus?

Estimates varies widely and range as high as 1,500,000 (Lupus Foundation of America). A study in 2005 suggested a prevalence of 161,000 with definite SLE and 322,000 with definite and/or probable SLE.

In an effort to define its prevalence several states have funded programs that focus on determining how many cases of Lupus exist and how many new cases occur each year. The state of Georgia implemented a Lupus Registry which targeted Caucasians and African Americans in the counties of Dekalb and Fulton from 2002-2004. In the same time span, the state of Michigan also implemented a Lupus Registry (Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance – M.I.L.E.S.) targeting Caucasians and African Americans in the counties of Washtenaw and Wayne.

In later years, 2007 – 2009, California implemented the California Lupus Surveillance in San Francisco and San Mateo counties targeting Hispanics and Asians. The state of New York also implemented the Manhattan Lupus Surveillance during the same time period targeting the same ethnic group in the entire borough of Manhattan.

The Indian Health Service Lupus Project was implemented to target Alaska Natives, Indians in the Phoenix areas, Oklahoma and the Northern plains from 2007-2009.

Causes

As stated earlier, the cause of SLE is unknown, but there are drugs on the market that can cause what is known as “drug-induced” systemic lupus erythematosus. The most common ones are:

  • Isoniazid
  • Hydralazine
  • Procainamide

Other less common drugs which may cause SLE are:

  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Capoten®
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Etanercept (Enbrel®)
  • Infliximab (Remicade®)
  • Methyldopa
  • Minocycline
  • Penicillamine
  • Quinidine
  • Sulfasalazine

Symptoms tend to occur after taking the drug from 3 to 6 months.

Symptoms

  • Blurred Vision
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling
  • Joint pain
  • Joint Swelling
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Pleuritic chest pain
  • Skin rash
    • Rash gets worse in sunlight
    • Butterfly rash across the bridge of nose and cheeks
  • Weight loss

Treatment

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat the joint pain, inflammation and pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the lungs).
  • Corticoid creams to treat skin rashes
  • Anti-malarial drugs (hydroxychloroquine) to treat skin rashes and arthritis symptoms 

If the condition is affecting your heart, kidney or nervous system, your doctor may prescribe high doses of corticosteroids (prednisone, methylprednisolone) and immune system suppressants (azathioprine or cyclophosphamide). This is rare. 

If you or someone you know or love suffers from Lupus and is not aware of the resources available through the Lupus Foundation of America, I urge you to pass the word. The Lupus Foundation of America is “devoted to solving the mystery of Lupus, one of the world’s most cruel, most unpredictable and devastating diseases, while giving caring support to those who suffer from its brutal impact.” 

You may contact the Lupus Foundation through their website: http://www.lupus.org or by phone at 202.349.1155 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday, Eastern Standard Time. Their website has a wealth of information available in English and Spanish on Help and Resources, Frequently Asked Questions, Research and much more. To affiliate with a local chapter, click on their “Local Chapters”. Not all states have chapters. If you live in one of those states that do not have a chapter affiliate, contact the Lupus Foundation directly and find out how you can start a chapter.

 

References:

Centers for Disease Control – http://www.cdc.org

The Lupus Foundation of America – http://www.lupus.org

WebMD – http://www.WebMD.com/lupus

American Heart Month

February 4, 2014 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

gored1February is American Heart Month. For Americans, Heart Disease is a major problem. Every year, about 715,000 Americans experience a heart attack. Of that 715,000, 600,000 individuals die from some form of heart disease! That’s 1 out every 4 deaths! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans (both men and women).

Like everything else in this industry, there is a “big word” for heart disease. It is “Cardiovascular disease”. Cardiovascular disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in America is coronary heart disease. The coronary artery is the artery that supplies blood directly to the heart. Coronary heart disease is characterized by, the coronary artery becoming occluded (stopped up) by a substance called “plaque”. When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the blood supply is decreased to heart. This can cause a heart attack, angina (painful spasms of the heart), heart failure and arrhythmias (a disturbance in the rhythm of the heart).

Cardiovascular disease, including stroke, costs the United States $312 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications and loss of productivity. These conditions are the leading causes of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities.

There is hope! Heart Disease is preventable and controllable. As with all diseases and our journey to become healthy we have to take small steps:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit your alcohol consumption (I know, I don’t mean to be a killjoy!)
  • Have your cholesterol checked regularly
  • If you have diabetes, manage it
  • Take your medication

Even though heart disease is often thought of as a man’s disease/predicament the same number of women in the United States are afflicted by this condition. Despite the increase in awareness about heart disease, its signs, symptoms and presentation, only about 56% of women recognize that heart disease is our #1 killer.

While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others get dull, heavy to sharp chest pain and/or discomfort. We experience pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen and/or back. Sometimes heart disease is silent and may not be detected until we’ve had symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure or an arrhythmia.

As an African American woman and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incoporated, I’ve pledged to do what I can to make all people aware of heart disease and the effects, especially in women.

Friday, February 7, 2014 is National Wear Red Day (which is observed every first Friday in February). Won’t you join me and the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as well as my local chapter, Nu Iota Omega in wearing red in support of American Heart Month. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has partnered with the American Heart Association and we’ve dubbed, Friday, February 7, 2014 as Pink goes Red for a Day” (Alpha Kappa Alpha’s colors are “pink and green”). Nu Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will host the AKA Healthy Heart Mall Walk at the Orlando Fashion Square Mall from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST. The meeting place is the lower level below the food court. We invite you to join in this passionate, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health. Come prepared to sweat! Bring your family and friends and most importantly wear RED!

If you can’t join us for our mall walk, you can help us reach our fundraising goal of $500.00. Please log on to our fundraising page: http://www.goredforwomen.org/wearredday/donate and donate. No donation is too small (or too large)! Select the fundraising group sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Nu Iota Omega Chapter, Maitland, FL.

World AIDS Day

November 30, 2013 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

HIV Basics – HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that can lead to Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Unlike some viruses that humans contract, you cannot get rid of HIV. Once contracted you have it for life. HIV is spread through the body fluids. It attacks specific cells called CD4 or T cells. Over a time the virus destroys so many of these cells (the HIV replicates so much faster than the CD4 or T cells) that the body can no longer fight off infections and disease. When this happens, the HIV infection leads to AIDS. world_aids1

Where does HIV come from? – That’s the $64,000,000 question. However, scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Studies show that HIV may have jumped from apes to humans as far back as the late 1800s. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid- to late 1970s. Because this virus has the ability to constantly mutate (change), it has been a challenge to develop a vaccine.

STAGES OF HIV:

Acute Infection – Within 2 to 4 weeks after being infected an individual can feel sick, characterized by flu-like symptoms. This is called, acute retroviral syndrome or ARS (not everyone develops ARS and not everyone is symptomatic). Scary! During this time the body is mass producing the HIV and it is using the CD4 cells to replicate itself, thus destroying them in the process (the CD4 cells are cells that help to fight infection). Your CD4 cell count drops during this period. While an individual is capable of spreading the virus at anytime once infected, during this stage the probability of infection is greatest. Eventually your body’s immune response will attempt to control the amount of HIV being produced and your CD4 count will begin to rise again, but it probably will not rise above or equal to your pre-infection levels.

Clinical Latency – During this stage, the HIV is slowly being produced or dormant. The individual is still able to pass on the infection. How long this stage last is indeterminate. Individuals on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) can live for decades. Individuals who choose not to institute ART this stage may last one decade or less. Although as stated previously, this stage is indeterminate at best, and best practices recommends ART.

AIDS – This stage of the infection occurs when your immune system becomes badly damaged and you become vulnerable to infections and/or infection related cancers. Your CD4 cell counts drops again. Once the CD4 cell counts drops below 200 cells/mm3 you are considered to have progressed to AIDS. Without treatment, people diagnosed with AIDS survive about 3 years. Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic infection, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. People with AIDS need medical treatment to live.

How can you tell if you are infected with HIV? – The only way to know if you’re infected is to be tested. You cannot rely on the symptoms to tell you if you’re infected with HIV because the symptoms are common to other diseases. Some individuals do not exhibit any symptoms at all.

How can I find a testing site? – There are several ways you can find a testing site.

  • You can call 1.800.CDC.INFO (1.800.232.4636) and ask for testing sites in your area
  • You can text your zip code to: KNOWIT (566948)
  • There are two types of tests available to you in most drug stores or pharmacies:
    • One involves pricking your finger and sending off the blood sample to a lab and call in for your results
    • One test involves swabbing your mouth and using the test kit to get the results after waiting 20 minutes.
  • You can always ask your healthcare provider to order the test. ALL HIV Testing Results are CONFIDENTIAL

HIV Transmission – Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur. Mucous membranes can be found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth. This means that having unprotected sex vaginally or anal with an HIV infected person can result in you becoming infected with the virus. You can become infected with HIV if you share needles with a person who is HIV positive. Mothers who are HIV positive can pass the HIV virus to their unborn babies, if ART is not initiated as early as possible during the pregnancy.

Is there a cure for HIV? – For most people the answer is no! Others have reported a cure when they received a treatment for a cancer that would have killed them otherwise, or when tested for HIV after decades of ART there is no HIV detected. It is important for all to understand that once the virus has been detected you are infected and you can pass the infection to others.

 

American Diabetes Month

November 7, 2013 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

November is American Diabetes Month (ADM). The vision of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a life free from diabetes and all of the consequences associated with diabetes. During the month of November (and all year long) the American Diabetes association brings to the spotlight the many programs that have been developed that focuses on the issues surrounding diabetes and the many people who are impacted by this disease.

Here are some recent statistics involving diabetes:

  • Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
  • Another 79 million have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

What is Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease which is characterized by high glucose (blood sugar) which results in the body’s inability to produce and/or use insulin. pregnant_womanThere are three forms of Diabetes:

  • Type 1 (formerly known as juvenile diabetes and is typically diagnosed in childhood).
    • This type of diabetes is diagnosed in children and young adults. It is characterized as the body’s inability to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to convert sugars, starches and other foods into energy needed for daily life.
    • Type 2 (formerly known as adult on-set diabetes).
      • This type of diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults (40 and above).  In this type of diabetes, the body does produce insulin, but it can’t use it properly.  In the beginning your pancreas makes extra insulin, but over time it can’t keep up, nor make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
      • Gestational (this type is typically diagnosed in pregnant women).
        • This type of diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy, usually around the 24 week. It doesn’t mean you were diabetic prior to conception, nor does it mean that you will be diabetic after giving birth. However, it is very important to follow your physician’s instruction on monitoring and controlling your blood sugar during the pregnancy.

Treatment and Care

Diabetes is a common disease, but treatment and care for each individual is unique. It is very important for individuals and their families to learn as much as possible about diabetes, the latest medical therapies and approaches, as well as adapting healthy lifestyle choices. Good communication with your physician, dietician and/or pharmacist can help you feel in control and help you succeed when needed changes arise. The following are just a few of the daily regimens individuals with diabetes must follow:

  • Blood Glucose control – You must learn to monitor your blood glucose levels and how to use the tools to do so.
  • Medications – It’s important to take your medications as prescribed and alert your physician and/or pharmacist to any changes.
  • Oral Health and Hygiene – Research shows that there is an increased prevalence in gum disease in individuals with diabetes. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for cleanings, floss after every meal and brush at the minimum twice daily for good oral health.
  • Health Insurance Options – Since diabetes is primarily a self managed disease, it is important to have the tools to work with to remain healthy, e.g. test strips, glucometers, insulin and/or oral medication. Most insurance covers these implements, but you really need to do your research to be sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

You can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. Change your diet, increase your level of physical activity and maintain a healthy weight. With these steps you can reduce your risks and stay healthier longer. You can also check out the many resources, e.g. “The Diabetes Risk Test”, “Prediabetes”, “MyFoodAdvisor™”, and My Health Advisor” are all located on the American Diabetes Association website (http://www.diabetes.org/).

Resources:
http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/
http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/programs/american-diabetes-month/

American Pharmacists Month

October 22, 2013 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

October is American Pharmacy Awareness Month. While this month is noted for other health awareness e.g. breast cancer, it is also the month where Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacists are honored. The yearly motto for the American Pharmacists Month is, “Know your MEDICINE, Know your PHARMACIST. American Pharmacist Month is a time to educate patients, motivate staff, engage and inspire patients to get to know their pharmacists better and make patients more knowledgeable about their medication. October 23, 2013 is National Pharmacy Technician Day, with the motto being, “Helping America Feel Better”.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are committed to patient safety, their community and their profession. The profession of pharmacy has come a long way from dispensing and compounding. Pharmacists are now recognized as an integral part of the health care team. With today’s changing health care laws and policies, it is important to convey the vital role that pharmacists are playing in a variety of health care settings.

Our History

The beginnings of pharmacy are ancient. In the Greek legend, Asclepius, the god of healing art, delegated Hygieia the duty of compounding his remedies. She was his apothecary or pharmacist. The physician-priests were divided into two classes: those who visited the sick and those who remained in the temple and prepared remedies for the patients.

National Pharmaceutical Week was proposed by Robert J. Ruth, a pharmacist from Asheville, NC at the 1924 American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting. The first celebration was on October 11-17, 1925. The American Pharmacist Month was launched in 2004 by the APhA, with a campaign designed to encourage pharmacy patients to “Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist.”

Getting to Know your Pharmacist

In this day of economic uncertainty, high costs of health care and medications; it is extremely important to get to know your pharmacist. While you may think that shopping around for prescription medications is smart, it can be costly. It can cost you unpleasant drug interactions, some fatal. It is important that your pharmacist knows you! Your pharmacist should have as much medical history as possible about you. Practicing poly pharmacy (using multiple pharmacies) can undoubtedly leave one of the pharmacies not having all the crucial information needed about you. Your pharmacist should have a complete medication profile, should be notified when medications have been discontinued by your prescriber, should have a listing of all of your allergies (medication and food, etc.) and should be notified when you develop sensitivity or have an allergic reaction to a medication, etc. When the pharmacist has all of this information loaded into their system, it helps him and/or her prevent  undesirable reactions or problems from occurring. The pharmacist can alert your prescriber of your history BEFORE you pay for something only to find that you have a history of sensitivity to the product, or an ingredient in a particular product. Know that pharmacists cannot take back products once you’ve left the pharmacy (the law prohibits this).

Resources:

http://www.pharmacytechnician.org/en/art/1321/
http://www.pharmview.com/?page=APM
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/455192/pharmacy/35617/History-of-pharmacy

Breast Cancer Disparities

October 9, 2013 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

Breast cancer has been known to mankind since ancient times. In almost every recorded period of history you can find some mention of breast cancer (even though it may not have been called breast cancer). Why? Because unlike most cancers that occurs internally, breast cancer manifests itself as lumps and tumors which can be seen.

In earlier times it was taboo and even an embarrassment to even mention an irregularity with the breasts, hence late detection and diagnosis. Ancient Egyptians were the first to note breast cancer disease more than 3,500 years ago. One description refers to breast cancer as bulging tumors of which there is no cure.

pinkribbon_1

In the time of Hippocrates (the father of Western Medicine), described breast cancer as a humoral disease. In that time he theorized that the body consisted of four (4) humors; blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. He suggested that breast cancer was caused by and excessive production of black bile because the cancer appeared black, with hard tumors which burst forth with black fluid if left untreated. He also concluded that breast cancer affected the entire body, therefore no surgeries were performed.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The NBCAM was founded in 1985 through a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca) a producer of several anti-breast cancer drugs. In 1993, Evelyn Lauder, the senior vice president of Esteé Lauder Companies established the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as its symbol (this was not the first time the pink ribbon was used a symbol for breast cancer).

African American women have the highest breast cancer death rates of all racial and ethnic groups and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. While breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, the death rate among white women is rapidly declining. Some factors that contribute to the difference are as follows:

  • Black women often have cancers that grow faster and are harder to treat
  • Black women have fewer social and economic resources than other women
  • Black women are less likely to get prompt follow-up care when their mammogram shows something abnormal
  • Black women are less likely to get high quality treatment if diagnosed

Ways to Lower Your Risk – Get mammograms regularly. If between the ages of 50-74, you should get a screening mammogram every 2 years. If you are between the ages of 40-49 you need to discuss with your physician how often you should get a screening mammogram (especially if you have a parent, sibling or child with breast cancer).

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) – The Centers for Disease Control provides for Breast and Cervical Cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured and under insured women across the United States. Search for free low cost screenings in your state by using this interactive map – http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dcpc_Programs/default.aspx?NPID=1. However, as this is a service funded and provided by the government it is likely that you cannot receive any services at this time due to our current government “shut-down” status. Bookmark the link for future use.

Resources

http://www.cdc.gov/features/vitalsigns/breastcancer/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Breast_Cancer_Awareness_Month

http://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-Breast-Cancer.aspx

Sickle Cell Awareness

September 2, 2013 by Legalized Pill P.U.S.H.A.

Loving CoupleSeptember is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder affecting an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 African Americans. Other affected racial and ethnic groups include Hispanics, people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent and Asians.

In Sickle Cell Disease, the red blood cells become sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool. The primary function of the red blood cells is to carry oxygen throughout the body. When the cells becomes deformed it cannot carry the much needed oxygen to the vital organs in the body. Because they become sticky, the have a tendency to clog the passageways as they travel (or try to travel) through the small blood vessels. This results in severe pain, organ damage, serious infections and anemia. Because red blood cells are “sickle shaped” the blood cells die early, thus leaving a severe blood shortage.

Children are born with SCD. It is not contagious. It occurs when a child inherits the sickle hemoglobin gene from both parents. About 2,000 babies are born with SCD in the United States each year. People who inherit only one gene from their parents are carriers (sickle cell trait). They do not have anemia or painful sickle cell crisis. About 2 million Americans have sickle cell trait.

Patients with SCD develop severe pain in chest, back, arms, legs and abdomen. Pain can occur anywhere in the body. Sickle blood cells in the lungs can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing. SCD can cause severe brain damage, heart, kidneys, liver, spleen and bones (not enough oxygen getting to the organs because of the cell’s sickle shape).

Prenatal testing for SCD is possible by examining DNA of fetal cells obtained by chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. Testing of newborns for SCD is required by law in all 50 states. Early detection and treatment reduces the risk of serious infections and other complications.

Treatment of Sickle Cell Crisis includes:

  • Opioid pain medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen)
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Oxygen
  • Intravenous or oral fluids

 

Resources:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/documents/BBV_PNV_C0_1159_Sickle_Cell_R1mtr.pdf
http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/pain-management-sickle-cell-disease?page=2

 

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