Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disease. As the name suggests it is a form of anemia which is caused due to a mutation gene which makes the red blood cells of the patient contract and look like sickles. The abnormal cells are not as flexible as the regular red blood cells. They get stuck together and form clumps. This can result is restriction of blood flow, and also rupture of the red blood cells.
Even if the sickle cells are present at birth if they are not screened for the symptoms associated with the disorder do not appear till a child is at least 4 months old.
What is sickle cell anemia’s primary symptom?
The symptoms of sickle cell anemia are primarily the symptoms of regular anemia. Essentially the lower hemoglobin count in the blood, due to reduced red blood cells in the body, causes the same conditions.
These are a shortness of breath, spells of dizziness, persistent headaches, cold hands and feet, pale skin and easy fatigue. There can also be sudden and acute pain in the body which is more typical to sickle cell disease than regular anemia.
What is sickle cell anemia’s diagnosis?
An old test for sickle cell anemia was the sickledex assay. The screening of sickle cell anemia is now done via a specialized blood test called hemoglobin electrophoresis. The same test in addition to this disorder can also detect hemoglobin C and b-thalassemia in adults. The test results are confirmed by a second blood test if the doctor sees the presence of sickle cells.
Why is sickle cell anemia’s screening essential?
Sickle cells are passed on during conception. There is no way that you can contract from another person after you are born as the disorder, such as it is, is genetic. The trouble is that the common symptoms of the disease mimic other diseases and if the child has not been screened for sickle cell anemia he may not be getting the correct treatment.
What is sickle cell anemia’s main complication?
A sickle cell crisis is a sudden and acute pain felt all through the body. This crisis occurs when the sickle cells clump up together and restrict the blood flow through the circulatory system. Due to the lack of blood flow to the organs there is swelling and acute pain.
The pain can range from mild to extremely severe. As the blood flow restarts the pain reduces, however each sickle cell crisis also manages to damage the internal organs to some degree. They can also be the cause of a stroke.
What is sickle cell anemia’s treatment?
The pain caused by the sickle cell crisis is managed by oral medication and plenty of fluids. In case of actual treatment there are blood and bone marrow transplants. There is also ongoing research in the stem cells which may come up with a permanent cure at a future date.