Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is an inherited health disorder that is something related to blood. It is found that this health issue affects more than a lakh of people in the United States. In general, the red blood cells are known to contain haemoglobin. This is a protein responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood to different parts of the body for their healthy functioning. Normally, in the humans, the red blood cells are flexible and round, and this enables the cells to carry through small blood vessels for delivery of oxygen can cause sickle cell disease.

What Happens in Patients with Sickle Cell?

In the case of patients with this health issue, the red blood cells turn into a crescent shape known as a sickle. These red blood cells in the shape of sickle break up easily, thereby leading to anaemia. The normal red blood cells live for 120 days in the humans, but in the case of sickle cell disease red blood cells, they just live for 10-20 days. The sickle cells that are also damaged join and stick to the walls of the blood vessels, thereby blocking the flow of blood. This can lead to permanent damage and severe pain to the different organs of the human body like spleen, bones, liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. When a patient experiences severe pain, it will be identified as an emergency situation called acute sickle cell crisis. Even though a patient cannot identify the reason behind the pain, it is found that dehydration and infection are common triggers.

Even though this condition is common in African-Americans and Africans, it is found in racial and ethnic groups, inclusive of people from Central and South America, India, Mediterranean countries and the Caribbean.

Causes of the Disease:

This disease is known to be caused due to the genetic abnormality in the gene for haemoglobin. This will result in the production of sickle haemoglobin. When oxygen gets out of the sickle haemoglobin, it attaches and leads to a formation of long rods. This can damage and change the shape of the red blood cells. The sickle red blood cells are the reasons behind the symptoms associated with this sickle cell disease and sickle cell anaemia treatment.

In some cases, children are born with this health issue, and it is not contagious. It occurs, when a baby gets two sickle haemoglobin genes one from each parent. In the United States, it is found that 2000 babies are born with this disease. Individuals, who inherit a single haemoglobin gene does not have sickle cell anaemia or painful condition, but they are at the higher risk of certain conditions like urinary tract infections and blood in the urine.

Sickle Cell Anaemia Symptoms:

Some of the symptoms of this condition include:

• Severe infections

• Blockage of blood flows to the liver

• Arthritis, joint pain and bone infarctions

• Strokes

• Difficulty in breathing and chest pain

• Anemia

• Severe pain

When it comes to diagnosing this condition, blood sample is generally taken as it will be easier to see sickle-shaped red blood cells from the blood sample.

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