What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?
Technically speaking, a sick is a farm tool that is basically a curved blade used to cut crops. In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells change from their normal round shape and assume the shape similar to that of a crescent moon or a sickle, hence the name of the disease. Normal round shaped cells because of their convenient shape can move easily through blood vessels, but sickle shaped cells can get stuck and block the blood vessels, preventing oxygen from getting through and easily travelling through the body. This has the impact of potentially causing harm to various different organs of the body, the possibility of being more susceptible to infection, increase in risk of experiencing strokes, as well as causing pain.
Sickle cell anemia is a disease that is generally inherited. If the child acquires the gene from just one parent then the child has the sickle gene trait that is the child may not have the disease confirmed but can potentially pass it on to his own child. For sickle cell disease to be inherited, the child must get the gene passed on from both the parents.
Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia
The most basic symptoms of sickle cell anemia begin to emerge then the child is as much as 4 months old and may include the following:
The irregular shaped sickle cells are rather weak and fragile, and tend to break easily, leaving the afflicted person short on red blood cells chronically. If there aren’t enough red blood cells in circulation, the body does not have enough oxygen to feel energized, leading to fatigue.
Stunted or Delayed Growth
The red blood cells in the body play the essential role of providing for the oxygen that is required to promote growth. Without sufficient red blood cells, there is inadequate oxygen in circulation, leading to slow growth in children and the possibility of delaying puberty in afflicted teenagers.
Episodes of Pain
The sickle shaped cells tend to block the blood flow to the chest, the joints and the abdomen, causing severe pain. Usually, people suffering from sickle cell anemia experience periodic episodes of these pains called crisis. While some may face dozens of episodic pains, others experience only a few. Regardless, these episodes of pain happen to be one of the most common symptoms of sickle cell anemia.
Hand Foot Swelling
Swelling in the hands and the feet is one of the earlier emerging symptoms of sickle cell anemia.
When the blood vessels that are tiny in size, supplying blood to your eye become plugged with sickle shaped cells, the eye can suffer greatly. This symptom of sickle cell anemia usually arises in those who are far deep in the disease.
Frequency in Infections
Another very common symptom of sickle cell anemia is frequent infections. The sickle cells can make you more susceptible to infections as they damage your spleen, which is the basic organ that fights these infections.
Sickle Cell Anemia Treatment
Sickle cell anemia treatment usually aims at alleviating symptoms such as episodes of pain. However, the most basic treatments for sickle cell anemia include blood transfusion, bone marrow transplants and medication to reduce pain. Even though bone marrow transplant happens to be the only plausible cure for the disease, finding a donor tends to be challenging and the procedure carries a great degree of risks. If your body rejects the transplant, you can confront serious life-threatening conditions.
The medications used for sickle cell anemia include antibiotics, pain killers and hydroxyurea, all aiming at alleviating symptoms such a lessening susceptibility to infections, relieving pain and reducing the number of crises. Lastly, blood transfusion aims at increasing the number of red blood cells, hence, treating basic anemia. Children with sickle cell anemia who are also at a high risk of developing strokes, blood transfusion can help decrease the likelihood of them occurring.