Sickle Cell Anemia

by Sam Malone


Sickle cell anemia is one of the blood disorders that's hereditary. It's mostly caused by a defective gene which is supposed to instruct the body how to manufacture hemoglobin, the protein that gives red color to blood. It permits red blood cells to transport oxygen to all parts of the body and bring carbon dioxide to the lungs for exhalation. Sickle cell anemia produces hemoglobin S, instead of hemoglobin A, the normal one. The gene of sickle gene is passed on to future generations in a process known as autosomal recessive inheritance. Both parents become carriers and the gene is passed to their child.

First symptom of sickle cell disease is anemia. Sickle cells are very vulnerable that they can easily break apart or even die. This causes a shortage in red blood cells, resulting to anemia. Anemia results to fatigue because your body doesn't have the oxygen it needs to be energized. Cell crisis is characterized by pain that occurs periodically. It usually develops whenever red blood cells that are sickle-shaped impede proper blood flow through the little blood vessels towards your joints, abdomen, and chest. Pain can also be felt in the bones. It can last for as short as few hours to even weeks, and the intensity may differ. Swollen feet and hand are the common symptoms of sickle cell anemia in children. This is caused by the blockage of blood flow into the hands and feet by the sickle red blood cells. Jaundice, or skin and eye yellowing, happens when the liver is damaged or doesn't function properly. The liver can sometimes become overwhelmed by the quick death of millions of red blood cells. The disease can also lead to different kinds of infection as it can damage your spleen, your main defense against viruses and bacteria. Other symptoms include stunted growth and vision problems.

Hemoglobin S can be checked through a blood test. In fact, such blood screening is considered mandatory for newborn babies in some states in America. Usually a blood sample is taken from a vein found in the arm. Samples of blood from the heel or finger are taken from babies and children. This sample is transported to a laboratory, where actual testing occurs. Positive results may mean that further studies will be conducted to know how many sickle cell genes exist in the body.

Bone marrow transplant is considered to be the best treatment for sickle cell anemia, yet there aren't a lot of people who fit as donors. The next best thing to do is to alleviate the patient of his symptoms and to minimize the occurrence of crises. Medications for children include antibiotics which they can take as young as two months old until they turn 5. This prevents the development of pneumonia and other life-threatening infections. Crises can be minimized by taking some pain relievers. Your doctor can give you the best kinds of over-the-counter medications. It also helps if you can apply heat to the painful area.


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