What Teachers Should Know Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder of the red blood cells. In sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become distorted and look C-shaped, like a sickle. Sickle cells die early, which leads to anemia. Signs of anemia include: pale skin tiring easily feeling lightheaded, dizzy, of short of breath trouble paying attention fast heartrate Also, these sickle-shaped blood cells tend to get stuck in narrow blood vessels and clog blood flow. This can cause severe pain and organ damage. People with sickle cell disease are at risk for some bacterial infections. Students with sickle cell disease may: need to go to the school nurse's office and take medicine to help manage pain need to drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration, which increases sickling of red blood cells be tired in class and need occasional rests from classroom activities need to have classroom air temperature adjusted to avoid becoming overheated or too cold, which can trigger episodes of pain have symptoms that need immediate medical care, such as: severe pain chest pain trouble breathing fever jaundice or paleness extreme tiredness swelling of hands and feet severe headaches seizures other neurologic symptoms (such as sudden vision changes, slurred speech, weakness or inability to move a part of the body, or loss of consciousness) What Teachers Can Do Students with sickle cell disease may miss class time or be absent for doctor visits or hospital stays. Give these students special consideration regarding missed instruction, assignments, and testing. Chronic fatigue or pain can make it appear that students aren't motivated to learn. Knowing your students well can help you make an accurate assessment. Kids and teens with sickle cell disease may not be able to play contact sports or participate in strenuous exercise — check with their parents. Otherwise, encourage them to participate in moderate physical exercise and other school activities. Let your student carry a bottle of water and take bathroom breaks. Allow breaks from instruction and activities when necessary. Avoid outdoor activities when it's very hot or very cold. Be prepared in case a student has any symptoms that need medical care right away. Back to Articles Related Articles I Have Sickle Cell Disease. What Should I Know About Going Away to College? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is a disease of the blood. Red blood cells are shaped like sickles, and can get stuck, especially inside smaller blood vessels. Read More Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that makes red blood cells change shape and cause health problems. Find out how to help your child. Read More 504 Education Plans If your child has special needs in the classroom, he or she may be eligible for a government-supported learning plan. Read More Balancing Schoolwork and Hospital Stays Every student finds it hard to stay on top of schoolwork sometimes. So what happens when you have to miss a lot of school? This article for teens offers tips and advice. Read More Transitioning Your Medical Care: Sickle Cell Disease At a certain point, you'll no longer be able to see your childhood doctor. Here are tips for teens on making a smooth switch to adult sickle cell care. Read More My Friend Has Sickle Cell Disease. How Can I Help? People with sickle cell disease need good friends who understand and can help them get through tough times. This article for teens helps you learn what you can do to be that friend. Read More Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that makes red blood cells change shape and cause health problems. Find out more in this article for teens. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.