First Aid Responder Level 3 (VTQ)

213 videos, 11 hours and 50 minutes

Course Content

Sickle Cell

Video 194 of 213
3 min 26 sec
Want to watch this video? Sign up for the course or enter your email below to watch one free video.

Unlock This Video Now for FREE

This video is normally available to paying customers.
You may unlock this video for FREE. Enter your email address for instant access AND to receive ongoing updates and special discounts related to this topic.

Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic disorder passed from parents to children that affect the body's blood cells. Haemoglobin is a substance that carries oxygen in the blood around the body. And with sickle cell, it causes the red blood cells, normally shaped like a disc, to be an abnormal sickle or crescent-shaped. If a gene is inherited from only one parent, they have a sickle trait. People with sickle cell traits do not have symptoms of sickle cell anaemia. Sickle cell is more common in people of African and Mediterranean origin. It is also seen in people from South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. Cells that are sickle-shaped deliver less oxygen to the body's tissues. They can also get stuck in the small blood vessels as well as break into pieces that can interrupt healthy blood flow. These problems decrease the amount of oxygen flowing to the body's tissues. In some cases, sickle red blood cells can block blood vessels to the brain which can lead to strokes.

Symptoms usually occur in age four to six months or may not be present, but one or more will indicate an onset. These include severe pain, thirst and yellowing of the eyes and the skin, called jaundice. They may be irritable and tired, pain in the arms, legs, back and stomach. Swelling of hands and feet; joints and bones will be stiff and painful. Pain can be triggered by infections, dehydration, over-exertion, excitement, cold weather, swimming and bumps and bruises. Signs of sickle pain can be difficult to detect in children. If they are sighing in pain, you must believe them. Talk to the parents if you're a carer for the child before it becomes a problem. For patients who are at risk of developing severe infections, antibiotics are often required.

Most of the time, children will feel fine but with sickle cell, you might feel tired and unwell. Almost all sickle cell anaemia carriers have a painful episode called a crisis which can last from hours to days. Some patients have one or more crisis episodes every few years, others may have more frequently. The crisis can be enough to require them to go to the hospital in some cases. You can help reduce the frequency and severity by avoiding dehydration. Be sure the child doesn't become too over-tired. Encourage them to rest when tired. Keep the child warm and dry. Conditions worsen when they are cold and wet. Avoiding sudden changes in temperature can also help them. Pain control management can be by providing warmth and increasing the blood flow with massage and rubbing. Heat the body with hot water bottles and deep heat creams, and also help to bandage or support painful areas.

Rest is important and try to relax them by deep breathing exercises therefore by distracting attention and other psychological methods. Doctors may recommend pain killers, including analgesics like paracetamol. Finally, you may need to activate emergency medical services immediately and contact the child's parents.