We’ve all heard about sickle cell at a certain point in our lives. While some people know what it is, others don’t and another amount lives with the disease. Having had a few people who have been affected with the disease gave me quite an amount of knowledge about the it. Here we’re going to discuss about what you need to know about sickle cell anemia.
Sickle cell is a group of inherited blood disorders. The disease causes the red blood cell to form a crescent shape like a sickle. These blood cells break easily thus leading to anemia. A normal red blood cell lasts for 120 days but a sickled red blood cell only get to last for 10-20 days.
Damaged sickled red blood cells usually sticks to the walls of the blood vessels and thus disrupts the flow of blood. This is what leads to severe pains in a sickler. This pain could also cause damage to the heart, brain, kidney, liver, bones and spleen. This is also known as Sickle Cell Crisis.
Sickle Cell Crisis could be triggered by infections or dehydration.
There are several types of sickle cell disease but the most common are: Sickle Cell Anemia (SS), Sickle-Hemoglobin C Disease (SC)
Sickle Beta-Plus Thalassemia and Sickle Beta-Zero Thalassemia.
Sickle cell anaemia is caused by a genetic abnormality in the gene which affects the normal development of hemoglobin, thus resulting in the production of sickle hemoglobin. The release of oxygen from the sickle hemoglobin causes it to stick together, forming long rods which damages the shape of the red blood cell.
Sickle cell is also caused when a child inherits two of these sickle haemoglobin genes from both parents. Individuals who inherit just one sickle haemoglobin gene are carriers but they do not have anaemia or painful sickle cell crisis.
The symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease include:
- Severe pain
- Severe infections
- Chest pain and breathing difficulties
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Blockage of blood flow in the spleen or liver
Individuals with SCD are prone to develop certain pain in the back, chest, arms, legs and abdomen, as this pain can occur anywhere in the body. Sickled red blood cells in the body can cause severe illness such as fever, chest pain and other infections.
Sickle cell disease is life threatening as the pain and discomfort which it afflicts on an individual could be unbearable. In our next post on this disease, we would be looking at its diagnosis, its various forms of crisis and how to manage them.