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Difference Between Sickle Cell Hemoglobin and Normal Hemoglobin

Sickle Cell Hemoglobin vs Normal Hemoglobin

Each year, children and adults are diagnosed with blood-borne diseases. One of the most fatal types is leukemia which is already a type of cancer. Some of these blood diseases are inherited from defective genes while others are due to a lack of nutrients, such as iron, which in turn may cause IDA or iron deficiency anemia.

Sickle cell anemia occurs in some people around the globe, particularly to the African race. Every year, thousands of children are diagnosed with it in the U.S. and Canada. It is not a deadly disease but rather a manageable one. However, early diagnosis is better to prevent further complications.

In SCD, or sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin in the cells can be either normal or may cause the cell to become sickle-shaped which can be called sickle cell hemoglobin. Let us try to find out the differences between normal hemoglobin and sickle cell hemoglobin.

Normal RBCs are circular in shape or disc-shaped while sickle cells are shaped like a half moon or crescent shape. When these cells move and flow into the bloodstream, normal red blood cells which contain normal hemoglobin move in a very smooth way. However, when sickle cells move into the bloodstream, this causes a “traffic jam” which blocks the blood flow in return. The sickle cell hemoglobin usually form strands that cause the sickling shape of the RBCs or red blood cells.

When this happens, sickle cells will cause sickle cell anemia. As we all know, in anemia, there is a reduced number of RBCs. This causes anemia since there is little normal hemoglobin that carries the oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. So symptoms such as fatigue and drowsiness may occur in the child.

RBCs are produced in the bone marrow and are replaced in the body every three months. This is in the case of normal RBCs. However, in SCD, it is replaced rapidly at about 10-20 days only. The bone marrow has great difficulty producing red blood cells.

SCD and sickle cell anemia are inherited from their parents who are carriers. These carriers who inherited it have a sickled trait which is different from sickle cell anemia. When someone is a carrier or has the sickled trait, he or she will not be affected by the disease. However, if it’s passed on through a child, he or she will manifest the symptoms. There will always be a 25 per cent chance or 1 out of 4 chance for your child to have this disease if both parents have it. Also, 50 per cent or 2 out of 4 children will be carriers, and the last 25 per cent will grow normally.

This disease is lifelong and is always manageable.


1. Normal RBCs are circular in shape or disc-shaped while sickle cells are shaped like a half moon or crescent shape.
2. Normal hemoglobin will cause smooth flowing of RBCs into the bloodstream while sickled-shape hemoglobin will cause a “traffic jam” into the bloodstream.
3. In normal RBCs, bone marrow will reproduce it every 3 months while in sickle-shaped, it takes 10-20 days only.
4. Sickle-shaped hemoglobin is inherited from both parents who have it.

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