Dis­ease A to Z

SICKLE CELL

Doctor's Plaza Health Magazine - - Contents -

What is Sickle Cell?

The term sickle cell dis­ease (SCD) de­scribes a group of in­her­ited ( that the dis­ease is passed by genes from par­ents to their chil­dren ) red blood cell dis­or­ders. Peo­ple with SCD have ab­nor­mal he­mo­glo­bin, called he­mo­glo­bin S or sickle he­mo­glo­bin, in their red blood cells. Sickle-shaped cells are not flex­i­ble and can stick to ves­sel walls, caus­ing a block­age that slows or stops the flow of blood. When this hap­pens, oxy­gen can’t reach nearby tis­sues.

Can some­one with Sickle Cell in­fect oth­ers.?

A per­son can­not catch it, like a cold or in­fec­tion, from some­one else.

Symp­toms

Sickle cell dis­ease is present at birth, but most in­fants don’t show any signs un­til they are more than 4 months old. Symp­toms of sickle cell dis­ease vary. In some peo­ple, they are mild, in oth­ers se­vere and re­quir­ing hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

The most com­mon signs and symp­toms are linked to ane­mia. Ane­mia is a con­di­tion in which blood has a lower than nor­mal num­ber of red blood cells. Peo­ple with ane­mia do not have enough red blood cells, which de­liver oxy­gen. As a re­sult, they may feel tired or weak. Fa­tigue is one of the most com­mon symp­toms of sickle cell ane­mia.

The most com­mon signs and symp­toms are linked to ane­mia. Ane­mia is a con­di­tion in which blood has a lower than nor­mal num­ber of red blood cells.

Peo­ple with ane­mia do not have enough red blood cells, which de­liver oxy­gen. As a re­sult, they may feel tired or weak. Fa­tigue is one of the most com­mon symp­toms of sickle cell ane­mia.

Many peo­ple with sickle cell dis­ease live with chronic pain, es­pe­cially in their bones. How­ever, sud­den pain that can oc­cur any­where in the body is also a com­mon symp­tom of sickle cell dis­ease. This pain is called a”sickle cell cri­sis.”

Sickle cell crises of­ten af­fect the bones, lungs, ab­domen, and joints.

Other symp­toms of sickle cell dis­ease in­clude:

• Short­ness of breath and/or dizzi­ness

• Headache

• Cold­ness in the hands and feet

• Pale skin due to ane­mia

• Jaun­dice, or yel­low eyes and skin

• Chest pain

• Leg ul­cers that do not heal

Di­ag­no­sis

Early di­ag­no­sis of sickle cell dis­ease is very im­por­tant be­cause many com­pli­ca­tions can be pre­vented with early di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment. Sickle cell dis­ease and sickle cell trait can be di­ag­nosed with a sim­ple blood test. It’s also pos­si­ble for doc­tors to di­ag­nose sickle cell dis­ease be­fore birth. This is done us­ing a sam­ple of am­ni­otic fluid or tis­sue taken from the pla­centa. (Am­ni­otic fluid is the fluid in the sac sur­round­ing a grow­ing em­bryo. The pla­centa is the or­gan that at­taches the um­bil­i­cal cord to the mother’s womb.) This test can be done in the first few weeks of preg­nancy.

Treat­ment

The goals of treat­ing sickle cell dis­ease are to pre­vent or re­lieve pain; pre­vent in­fec­tions, or­gan dam­age, and strokes; treat ane­mia; and con­trol com­pli­ca­tions.

SICKLE CELL DIS­EASE IS PRESENT AT BIRTH, BUT MOST IN­FANT DON’T SHOW SIGNS ANY UN­TIL THEY ARE MORE THAN 4 MONTH OLD.

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