Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iron Overload

Did you know if you get 10 blood transfusions (in your lifetime) that you are at risk for iron overload?

No? I didn't either.

What is iron overload?

Healthy red blood cells usually live 120 days, damaged (sickled) cells live less. People with sickle cell or Thalassemia sometimes need to get a blood transfussion.

When we receive a blood transfusion we get more "hemoglobin", which helps our blood carry more oxygen. This is one reason we feel better after a getting a transfusion.

The blood in the transfusion also puts iron in our body. Over time, this iron builds up and our body has no way to get rid of it. It does not eliminate iron like other waste. This is Iron Overload (IO).

We can still have anemia AND have too much iron.

Too much iron can build up in our body (after 10 or more transfusions), even if a long time has passed between transfusions. (I DIDN'T KNOW THIS)

Iron Overload (IO) can lead to serious health problems, both now and later. Too much iron in your body can: (1) weaken your immune system, (2) cause sexual dysfunction or infertility, (3) heart failure (4) Liver damage (cancer), and (5) Diabetes.

Find out more information on Iron Overload (IO) and what actions you can take to be transfusion smart.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Young People With Sickle Cell Need Help Too!

Young people with Sickle Cell Disease often wonder, "Why me? Why do I have to have this disease?"

These questions often lead to anger, despair and resentment. This resentment often leads to non-acceptance of their illness and to ignoring the need to take care of themselves.

Death amoung young people who are in transition from childhood care to adult (self-managed) care is entirely too high.

These young people in transition need our support, love and encouragement. They also need to see examples of older adults "living" with Sickle Cell Disease and living well despite the difficulties.

Here's some help and resources:

Teen Health - Childrens National Medical Center Transition Education

Teen Health - KidsHealth.Org - Transitioning Your Medical Care

Pyschosocial Help - New Jersey Department of Health

Living with your teen - North Carolina Department of Health