What is the ‘Anemia’ in sickle cell anemia?


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Anemia is a condition in which you have lack enough red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body tissues.

Sickle cell anemia is usually used interchangeably with sickle cell disorder, but somehow sickle cell anemia is different.

Here’s how?

The body of every human is made up cells. The red blood cells are one type, produced in the bone marrow.

The red blood cells contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen to every part of the body.

Normally, a red blood cell lasts 90 – 120 days but with sickle cell disorder, the red blood cells last only 10 – 20 days.

The quick death of the red blood cell causes shortage. There is shortage of red blood cell and as well shortage of oxygen.

This shortage is called anemia. Hence the name sickle cell anemia.

Got it?

Symptoms of anemia in someone with sickle cell disorder

Some of the symptoms of sickle cell anemia includes,

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Paleness of skin

Fatigue is the most common symptoms of anemia.

what is sickle cell anemia? Anemia has symptoms and fatigue is the most common

I’ve heard people use the phrase I’m tired perhaps after a long walk or a stressful day or a tedious task but I wonder if it can be like the tiredness I feel throughout the day.

The kind that you go to bed and wake up with. No matter the hours of sleep, you do not wake up ready to go, you wake up feeling tired with zero energy.

The importance of Folate

It has been established that sickle cell anemia is caused by shortage of red blood cells. Hence, the one way to reduce the severity of this type of anemia is by improving production of red blood cells in the blood.

One of the ways to increase red blood cell production is by taking folate. A type of B-vitamin that’s important for cells growth and metabolism.

Folate can be found in form of dietary supplement called folic acid. One of the routine pills people living with sickle cell.

But folate can also be found in foods.

Foods rich in folate includes

  • Beetroot
  • Egg
  • Beans
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Grape
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Banana

Sickle cell anemia and Iron

Should you give a kid with sickle cell disorder iron supplements?

I have been asked that question so many times. I like it when parents are looking for ways to keep their wards with a chronic illness safe.

The answer to whether a child with sickle cell disorder should take iron supplements is NO.

It is not advisable to give anything that works as iron booster to someone living with sickle cell.


There are different types of anemia.

  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Anemia of inflammation and many more

The anemia for people with sickle cell is called Sickle cell anemia. Which is caused by shortage of red blood cells.

It is different from the iron deficiency anemia. People living with the disorder do not have iron deficiency, so there is no need to increase iron in the blood.

When iron supplements are given, it causes iron overload which can cause organ damage.

But taking foods with iron nutrient does not mean there will be iron overload.

So foods with iron are fine to take but never supplements.


Anemia in sickle cell isn’t different from any other form of anemia. It causes fatigue and other symptoms mentioned above.

And even though it is curable, we can reduce the severity, like I said earlier, by boosting red blood cells production.

And some foods that can help us do that includes beetroot, eggs, beans and many more.

Also, it is important not to forget the daily routine folic acid pill.

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