To understand what sickle cell disease is, first we have to understand a bit about our blood cells composition.
There are different types of blood cells. Some of these are red blood cells.
These are the cells that help with the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. In healthy individuals, these cells maintain a round shape that is flexible enough to move easily throughout all the blood vessels’ intricate network.
In sickle cell disease, the red blood cells cannot maintain their round and flexible shape. Instead, they have a tendency to lose this shape under certain conditions. They collapse and assume the shape of a sickle or a crescent moon. When this happens regularly, these cells become inflexible and cannot move easily through blood vessels.
Sickle red blood cells usually stagnate in the blood capillaries. When this happens, blood supply to certain areas of the body (or parts of an organ) is greatly impaired. This leads to some tissues being starved of oxygen. This can lead to small parts of the starved areas dying due to lack of oxygen.
This state can lead to increased physiological stress, which can further lead to more cells
sickling thereby setting a vicious cycle of events in motion.