Sickle cell anemia, also known as sickle cell disease, is a condition in which your red blood cells cannot carry oxygen and nutrients efficiently through the blood vessels due to their abnormal shape. Normally, our red blood cells are disc-shaped, which makes them flexible, and, therefore, they can travel with ease in the blood vessels. While, in sickle cell anemia, red blood cells are moon-shaped, which resembles a sickle. Due to their abnormal shape, they stick with each other, hence face difficulty in passing through blood vessels.
It makes it difficult for them to reach the organs efficiently, leading to tissue damage and pain. It is a genetically passed disorder. When both the parents have a recessive gene of sickle cell, there are fair chances that their offspring would have it. If your child has sickle cell anemia, you must visit the best general physician in Lahore.
What are the signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia?
The signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia usually occur until five months of age. They can vary from person to person. Some of them are as follows.
One of the most common problems with sickle cell disease is anemia. Normally, our red blood cells survive for 120 days and perform the function of oxygen and nutrient transportation throughout the body. Whereas in sickle cell anemia, your red blood cells can not survive for 120 days. Instead, they do that for just 10 to 20 days. Therefore, your body lacks red blood cells, hence causing anemia, which makes you feel lethargic.
Pain crisis is another symptom associated with sickle cell anemia. It is a condition in which the person feels pain in a particular organ due to the disruption of blood supply that occurs due to obstruction of red blood cells. You may need to get hospitalized for its treatment. Pain crises usually occur in episodes, mostly in the chest, bones, joints, and abdomen.
The intensity and duration of pain may differ from person to person. Also, it may affect the growth of bones, due to which height and development may get affected.
The blockage of red blood cells in the blood vessels may cause swelling of hands and feet.
The spleen is the place where dead red blood cells reside. In sickle cell disease, they die rapidly, so there is a huge load of them on the spleen, which makes it prone to infections. People with sickle cell disease must get immunizations on time on the advice of their healthcare provider.
Sickle cell disease may affect your growth. Since red blood cells provide oxygen and nutrition to your body, when they do not do that efficiently, it can affect the growth of a person.
Tiny blood vessels supply blood to your eyes. In sickle cell disease, the red blood cells form a clump that obstructs those blood vessels, hence affecting the blood supply to the eye. It can, therefore, cause damage to the retina, resulting in vision loss.
What causes sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell disease is passed from parents to their offspring through genes. The parents may not know that they carry a gene until symptoms appear in their child.
A child needs a pair of defective genes, each from one parent to get sickle cell disease.
What are the complications of sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell disease can lead to any of the following complications.
The obstruction of red blood cells in an artery that supplies blood to the brain can cause a stroke.
Acute chest syndrome
Sickle-shaped cells can obstruct the blood vessels of the lungs, hence causing acute chest syndrome, a painful chest condition with impaired breathing.
Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) can occur due to obstruction of sickle red blood cells in the blood vessels of the lungs.
The obstruction in blood vessels due to sickle cells can impair blood flow to different organs like kidneys, liver, lungs, hence causing organ damage.
Priapism is a condition in men in which a long-lasting painful erection of the penis occurs. It occurs in patients with sickle cell disease due to the obstruction of red blood cells in the blood vessels of the penis.
Sickle cell anemia is a painful condition to cope with. You may need to visit a doctor often. If you have the disease, do not delay your visit to a healthcare provider. There is no such treatment for sickle cell disease. But it can be managed symptomatically. For that, you must visit the best general physician in Karachi.