Sickle Cell Anemia 

What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell Anemia, or sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that's inherited — meaning it's passed down from parents to their children. Babies are born with sickle cell disease when they inherit two abnormal genes (one from each parent). These genes cause the body's red blood cells to change shape.

Normal - Not

  1. Normal red blood cells are shaped like discs or donuts with the centers partly scooped out. They are soft and flexible so they can easily move through very small blood vessels and deliver oxygen throughout a person's body.


  1. Sickle cells are stiffer. Instead of being disc shaped, they're curved like crescent moons, or an old farm tool known as a sickle. That's where the disease gets its name.

What Happens in the Blood?
  1. Instead of moving through the bloodstream easily, sickle cells can clog blood vessels. When blood can't get where it's needed, the body's tissues and organs don't have the oxygen they need to stay healthy.
  2. Normal red blood cells last about 4 months in the bloodstream. But fragile sickle cells break down after only about 10 to 20 days. This usually causes anemia.

Anemia 

  1. A condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness. 
  2. Anemia results from a lack of red blood cells or dysfunctional red blood cells in the body. This leads to reduced oxygen flow to the body's organs.
  3.       Symptoms may include fatigue, skin pallor, shortness of breath, lightheaded, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat. 
  4. Treatment depends on the underlying diagnosis. Iron supplements may be used for iron shortage. Vitamin B supplements maybe used for low vitamin levels. Blood transfusions may be used for blood loss. Medications to induce blood formation may be used if the body’s blood production is reduced.

What it does at birth 

Sometimes it can cause birth defects or other health conditions. A birth defect is a health condition that is present in a baby at birth. Your baby has to inherit a gene change for sickle cell from both parents to have SCD. If he/she inherits the gene change from just one parent, he/she has sickle cell trait. 

More About Sickle Cell Anemia

  • It is inherited-one sickle gene from each parent 
  • People who have the disease are born with it 
  • If sickle cell gene from other parent you have sickle cell trait
  • Most common in African Americans 

Did you know . . . 

Reports of Sickle Cell date back as early as 1670, where it was present within a Ghanaian family. African literature also reported Sickle Cell in the 1870s. it was called Ogbanje meaning "children who come and go", due to high mortality rate cause by the disease. 

Symptoms and Sign

  • The most common symptom of anemia is fatigue (felling tired or weak). Other signs and symptoms of anemia may include: 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Dizziness
  • Coldness in the hands and feet 
  • Paler than normal skin or mucous membranes (the tissue that lines your nose, mouth, and other organs and body cavities)
  • Jaundice (a yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes) 

Facts about Sickle cell Disease 

  • Sickle Cell Disease is much more common in certain ethnic groups affecting approximately one out of every 500 African Americans. 
  • Because people with sickle trait were more likely to survive malaria outbreaks in Africa than those with normal hemoglobin, it is believed that this genetically aberrant hemoglobin evolved as a protection against malaria.
  • Although sickle cell disease is inheried and present at birth, symtoms usually don't occur until after 4 months of age. 
  • Sickle cell anemia may become life-threatening when damaged red blood cells break down (and other circumstances). Repeated crises can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, bones, eyes, and central nervous system. 
  • Blocked blood vessels and damaged organs can cause acute painful episodes. These painful crises, which occur in almost all patients at some point in their lives. Some patients have one episode every few years, while others have many episodes per year. The crises can be severe enough to require admission to the hospital for pain control. 

NOT A DEATH SENTENCE

It is really cool that in the last 20 years there has been a number of scientific advancements that have made it possible to improve life with the disease. Around 1990 the average life span of someone with sickle cell anemia was barely 18 years old. Now people are easily living their 40's, living happy and productive lives that they find very meaningful. 

What Are the Types of Sickle Cell Disease ?

There are many different types of sickle cell disease, but Hemoglobin SS, Hemoglobin SC, and Sickle Beta Thalassemia are the most common types of sickle cell disease. Hemoglobin SS is Homozygous sickle cell disease.  The Hemoglobin S gene is inherited from both parents.

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Sickle cell anemia

by topangahilker

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Public - 12/1/16, 6:40 PM